#mugabe’s health: Zimbabwe on auto-pilot?

via Mugabe’s health: Zim on auto-pilot? 17/05/2014 NewZimbabwe

“WHY doesn’t he just permanently settle in Singapore and occasionally come to visit Zimbabwe”, a reader facetiously remarked as officials this week revealed that President Robert Mugabe had again travelled to the Southeast Asian city-state for another of his “routine” eye check-ups.

The quip was borne out of concern that Mugabe’s “routine eye check-ups” seem to require all too frequent and costly travel to far away Singapore.

There is also incredulity at the insistence by top aides that the 90 year-old would so regularly endure the 10,000 mile round trip on Air Zimbabwe’s equally aged and creaky aircraft merely to have his eyes attended to.

Mugabe travelled to Singapore in June last year ahead of the July general elections. And, having taken his annual vacations there after falling out with the West, it was no surprise that he went back towards the end of November.

After the annual holiday, Mugabe returned to Harare mid-January only to fly out again mid-February – for another routine procedure, his aides explained. He would return home in time for his 90th birthday celebrations and the wedding of daughter, Bona.

Top aides dismiss reports that Mugabe has for years battled serious health challenges – quite possibly prostate cancer – insisting he is in fine fettle for a man his age.

Mugabe also bates away the media speculation with derision, but the frequent trips to Singapore and other equally telling signs leave many unconvinced.

The latest trip comes after he admitted (speaking with evident difficulty) during an interview with the ZBC that he had a few issues “here and there … the left knee is beginning to give a bit of trouble”. That was in addition to the matter of the cataracts.

Ahead of last year’s elections, the Zanu PF leader gave an interview to the world’s media on the eve of the vote, flanked by then defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and presidential spokesman George Charamba.

But as he sat to down to speak to reporters at State House, Mugabe’s trousers rose to reveal abnormally bloated ankles which health experts suggested could be a sign of either heart or kidney trouble.

Botox Bob

Meanwhile, the trips to Singapore are also curious in another respect. Mugabe always returns home with a visage as smooth as that of a new-born baby, to the envy of other nonagenarians who, expectedly, look like prunes – gaunt and hollow-cheeked.

“The secret has to be Botox,” one medical expert told international media years ago, leading to the now common sobriquet “Botox Bob”.

But with the economy continuing to struggle and the government, so far, unable to raise the billions of dollars needed to finance its ZimAsset blue print, observers are beginning to ask whether Mugabe still has the energy to provide the hands-on leadership needed to force Zimbabwe out of its current mire.

Although Mugabe appoints Joice Mujuru as acting head of state in his absence, the deputy president is as ineffectual as when her boss is around because the Zanu PF leader travels with all executive authority. Cabinet, for instance, would never dare meet in his absence.

Commenting on his latest jaunt abroad, analysts said it was clear Mugabe was no longer fit enough to effectively lead both the government and the country.

Southern Africa Political and Economic Series (SAPES) Trust head, Ibbo Mandaza, told the weekly Independent newspaper that it was time the country discussed the question of whether or not Mugabe was now “incapacitated” to remain head of state.

Said Mandaza: “The question which Zimbabweans and the media should be answering now is: At which stage is one regarded as being incapacitated and who decides whether one is incapacitated or not? Is it parliament, is it another body?”

“That is what parliament should be seized with. I would say that anyone at 90 is incapacitated and should not be in a public office. The question is why should one continue for so long; what are the circumstances that warrant such a long stay?”

University political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure told the same newspaper that it would be in the interests of the country for Mugabe to step down at Zanu PF party’s congress in December.

“Zimbabwe is in a limbo. No one is in charge to steer the country away from the precipitous fall which it is about to plunge into,” said Masunungure.

“We have to bear in mind that leading a country is a heavy burden for anyone. Look at Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria. At 56 he is crumbling under the weight of problems but add 30 more years in Mugabe’s situation and you see the task he faces.

Zimbabwe in limbo

“Zimbabwe needs someone to run it with energy and mental and physical stamina. At 90, I don’t think he has the stamina that is needed for a country with so many problems.

“Those close to him should have advised him it was time to take it easy, but they are either too selfish or too timid to do so.”

Mugabe has led Zanu PF since the late 1970s and the country since Independence in 1980, along the way dealing ruthlessly and decisively with any threat to his stranglehold on power whether from within or outside the party.

Following last year’s crushing election victory against main rival Morgan Tsvangirai, the veteran leader indicated he would serve out his new five year term with ever-eager-to-please top lieutenants such as presidential affairs minister Didymus Mutasa adding that he could well stay on beyond his current term.

However, Mugabe hinted in a recent interview with the BBC that he might consider handing over power when his new term ends in 2018.

“I have people in mind who would want to be (president),” Mugabe told the BBC.

“But I have looked at them. I have not come to any conclusion as to which one, really, should be.

“I leave it to the choice of people. Perhaps when we get close to the election I will have some in mind.”

Mnangagwa and Mujuru have long been considered the leading candidates to take over, although both, aware of the certain dire political consequences that follow any open and active canvassing for the top job, advisedly demure at the suggestion.



  • comment-avatar

    Mnangagwa and Joyce should just disappear into obscurity when Bob Goes. They are both not fit for the rigorous exercise of rebuilding a nation that is currently on its last legs.They do not have an all encompassing vision to better the lives of the people of Zimbabwe.They are selfish to the marrow and will simply continue on the same destructive path (or worse) Mnangagwa is ruthless possibly worse than RGM. Joyce is …well just simple Joyce…she is ok holding onto the office keys when RRGM is out but hey! thats about it. They are both old ,tired and spent .They have nothing new to offer.

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    I have a question for Robert Gabriel……. He loves his daughter Bona ?
    When His daughter gives birth to His grandchild would He want this child born into a loving family or through a womb eviscerated by the bayonet of a 5th Brigade soldier, to die on the ground to the words of, ‘ look the dissident is trying to run’ ?
    Sadly Robert this is your legacy.

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      Mike, please you scare me when you talk those things. I do not want to remember any of those things that left me with a fractured wrist and shuttered hip.
      Please do not let me narrate how Gukurahundi slit open the tummy of my uncle’s wife, apparently “to see how a dissident baby was sitting inside”
      I……I cant continue typing, I have to wipe off tears.

  • comment-avatar
    thembani 9 years ago

    love your comment.

  • comment-avatar
    Dzatsva 9 years ago

    Zimbabme ruined, reruined again and again ,over and over again…I Cry FOR YOU MY Country of Birth.

  • comment-avatar
    nyoni 9 years ago

    Who cares if Bob goes to hell. The sooner the better. Just to löok at him and hear him speak makes me sick.

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    Rwendo 9 years ago

    If you were Mujuru, you would anticipate that as VP, if Mugabe expired you should at least initially be a shoo-in for the top job.

    If you were Mnangagwa, given your public unpopularity and resistance from fearful sections of ZANU PF, you would not choose an unpopular wrestling of power from Joyce, based on backing by security forces and the CIO. More preferable would be a handover and ‘ blessing’ from Mugabe while he was still alive. Especially after saving his neck in 2008 and 2013.

    Seems to me that we can expect a duel of (probably sponsored) articles (and schemes) like this versus the pro-Mujuru, Mutasas banning debate on Mugabe’s retirement. Plus the possibility of another run on the VP post

  • comment-avatar
    munzwa 9 years ago

    So much for democracy, when old botox says he will choose someone… go join flight 370…

  • comment-avatar
    Mapingu 9 years ago

    Truth is: Mugabe would easily do Zimbabwe a big favour if he wanted to, in terms of cutting costs of his shuttling between Hre & Singapore, by simply announcing himself a non-resident President who only visits Zimbabwe occasionally to get updates from his Cabinet.

    All Zimboz would actually be very happy about that given that his absence & presence are of no difference. Cabinet ministers always do their own thing whether the old man is in Zimbabwe or not. Some, like Kasukuwere even have the guts to occasionally surmon the old man to come and preside over non-existent sign-off event, where they old man is issued with a dummy cheque, without even realizing it.

    Saka better Mugabe achigarira ikoko achirapiwa – even salary yake yongo tumigwa ikoko. Zimbabwe would save a lot by such a noble step.

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    MikeH 9 years ago

    What exactly does “he is in fine fettle for a man his age” mean ? My definition is at best, ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE and in no fit state to run anything let alone a country !!! But, then, he isn’t running the country is he ? JOC is doing that.

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    “One foot in the grave,
    The other on a banana skin”.

    “One foot in the grave,
    The other in a bucket of sh-t”.

  • comment-avatar
    Maksmos Mangoma 9 years ago

    Botox Bob must just go and join his ancestors, the world is sick and tired of him

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    Nkiwane (M'kiwa) 9 years ago

    It will be Mnangagwa who takes over.

    And boy, if you think Bob is bad, just wait. Emmerson is going to smash us up and crucify us like no-one ever before. The winds of destruction are coming. Brace yourselves.

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    Godonga 9 years ago

    If Mnangagwa takes over the Crocodile will eat the sun indeed! This country has shed too much blood to deserve another Machiavellian strongman!

    My bet is on a female candidate to infuse some feminine humanity in this jungle of macho guerrilla warlords. The only hope lies with Mujuru, who being a victim of political violence wen her husband was barbacued beyond recognition, wil likely cleanse the nation of this blood curse, reconcil the nation, bring bak Simba Makoni and Dabengwa, gain confidence of the business community and assure the whites safety.

    Outside that glimmer of hope, I see the gloom and doom of civil war wen Mugabe joins his malawian ancestors somewhere above in the gallaxy of Nascissists!

    Bayete Mzilikazi.

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    Petal 9 years ago

    go to http://www.newzimbabwe.com you will see a video of Bob entering the Gleneagles Hospital and Disgrace and a bodyguard trying to stop the cameraman from filming. Helo helo you are in Singapore Disgrace not Zim where you can call the shots.
    This Gleneagles hospital is renowned for eye and cancer specialist treatment
    New zimbabwe.com should keep this video as evidence of him getting treatment abroad whilst the ordinary people suffer