PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s quick recovery from his much-publicised fall this week shows why Zimbabweans keep on voting him into power, state media claimed on Sunday.
“President Mugabe showed that he is mentally agile by having the reflexes to break that fall and that he is physically fit by walking away unscathed,” the Sunday Mail said in its editorial comment. The paper, like its sister daily the Herald, is seen as the voice of Mugabe’s government.
“The incident proved why Zimbabweans vote for him consistently: he is as mentally alert and physically capable as he has ever been,” the paper said.
Mugabe, 90 slipped and fell at Harare’s main airport when he returned from an African Union summit in Addis Ababa on Wednesday. Photos of his red-carpet fall emerged, sparking a wave of internet memes and renewed questions over the longtime Zimbabwean leader’s health. Mugabe has been in power in Zimbabwe since 1980 and turns 91 in a fortnight.
The government has tried to downplay the incident, insisting that Mugabe managed to break his fall and blaming the slip-up on a hump in the carpet.
“It takes a dunce to even suggest this is time for President Mugabe to step away from the scene,” Sunday’s editorial read. “The people of Zimbabwe …and the people of Africa have been unequivocal about this.”
But the editor of a privately-owned weekly wrote: “Pretending that he is a young old man will not help Mugabe…
“Mugabe would do himself and Zimbabweans a great favour by retiring.”
Many in Zimbabwe are now criticising the hilarity that greeted news of Mugabe’s fall, saying it is disrespectful.