Is President Robert Mugabe really ailing – or is he in no worse health than he was before?
Sources close to the First Family have reportedly told Zimbabwe’s Independent weekly newspaper that the 93-year-old president now has “worsening health problems” and his wife Grace is getting worried.
“Grace is in a quandary; she has to deal with Mugabe’s health challenges and political issues as well… she is scared of a future without him,” an unnamed official told the paper.
Mugabe was in Singapore last week for another medical check-up.
Zimbabwe Independent quoted a senior government official who claims to be close to Mugabe’s family saying that the longtime Zimbabwe leader has had a “noticeable decline in his cognitive abilities”.
The paper claimed Mugabe’s ill-health was now at a “crisis point”. But there have been numerous exaggerated reports on the president’s health in recent times. In fact, on Saturday Mugabe gave a short address at the funeral of his ex-chief justice Godfrey Chidyausiku. At that occasion, he appeared strong and in good form.
Apart from the frequent Singapore visits, there have been hints over recent months – and indeed years – that Mugabe’s health is getting shakier. For the first time this year, he was driven into the stadium to give his independence day speech in April. Previously he has walked in.
Cameras from state ZBC TV no longer focus on Mugabe as he walks anywhere in public, scared no doubt of a repeat of the 2015 #Mugabefalls debacle, when the president slipped on the red carpet at Harare International Airport. He is not infrequently pictured with his eyes closed at international events – though that, his spokesperson says, is because his eyes are giving him problems.
Seriously ill or not, one thing is certain: Mugabe is not getting any younger. And speculation over what happens when he goes is not going to die down.