A DESPERATE attempt by President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba to rubbish questions around the
Zanu PF leader’s failing health and demands by citizens to stem the tide of unnecessary expenditure has torched off a fresh storm around the 93-year-old leader.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mugabe left the country for Singapore on Monday in what officials claim was for routine medical check-ups.
Charamba told State-controlled CapiTalk Radio during debate on the recent classification of Zimbabwe as a fragile State at the World Economic Forum on Africa held in South Africa, that Mugabe receives most of his health care locally, but required external specialist interventions when it comes to his eyes.
Drawing comparisons with anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, Charamba might have unwittingly stoked debate around Mugabe’s age.
“At 93, there is something that happens to the eyes and the President cannot suffer bright lights. If you look at his poise, he looks down, avoids direct lighting. In the case of Mandela, if you remember, you were not allowed to even use flashes whenever he was in the room. That is what happens at 93 and Mandela, I do not think, lived as long as the President did. Let us disabuse ourselves,” Charamba reportedly said.
However, media reports and biographies on Mandela indicate that South Africa’s first democratically-elected leader developed eye problems while serving a life sentence at the notorious Robben Island Prison where he was forced to break quarry stones.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said Charamba was not an eye specialist.
“It is ridiculous that Mugabe will travel all the way to Singapore just to have his eyes checked. That’s nonsense, absolute hogwash,” he said.
“Mandela died at 95 and Mugabe is 93. The nation should be told the truth about the state of health of the country’s first citizen. The long and short of it is that Mugabe is now too old to remain in power. He now needs regular and specialist medical care to keep him going. He is no longer capable of efficiently and effectively running the affairs of State.”
Gutu added: “From what Charamba said, Mugabe could actually be much older than 93. It’s not uncommon for people in this country to have a birth record that depicts an age that is actually much younger than their actual date of birth.”
Incoming National People’s Party secretary general Gift Nyandoro said Charamba seemed to be ignorant of the fact that Mugabe’s foreign trips and medical expenses were paid for by a broke government at the expense of the poor taxpayer.
He said it was because of the collapsed health delivery system in Zimbabwe that Mugabe always travelled to Singapore for medical attention.
“Charamba should face the truth that his boss is now a liability to the country,” Nyandoro said.
MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi accused Charamba of lying.
“It is clear that Mugabe’s eye problems are a result of old age and cannot be compared to Mandela’s that were linked to his incarceration. Charamba is deliberately overspinning facts to mislead the leaderless flock in Zimbabwe. They are lying about Mugabe’s illness and need to apologise to Zimbabweans,” Chihwayi said. “The people deserve honest answers and attempts by Mugabe’s office to privatise his health are a major concern. Charamba’s Mugabe is young and energetic and has an endless lifespan. Charamba also wants to create confusion around Mugabe’s age. The question now is how old is the President?”