PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s doctor is a black Zimbabwe and it is on the advice of this local physician that the 93-year-old leader travels to Singapore for specialised medical treatment, a senior government official revealed Wednesday.
Said presidential spokesman George Charamba; “As a matter of fact, and let this be known to all Zimbabweans — the physician of the President is not only Zimbabwean, he is actually black.
“For security reasons, I will not tell you the real name. He is very Zimbabwean. He is very, very, very black.”
Mugabe left Harare earlier this week for Singapore for what was, as has become usual, described as a ‘routine check-up’ the second this year after he again travelled to Asian city state in February.
The veteran leader has long been criticised for spending millions as a global medical tourist, allegedly shunning the local health system which critics say has effectively collapsed under his 37-year rule.
This time around the criticism was even sharper as he had just returned from South Africa where he claimed – to widespread scorn – that Zimbabwe was the second most developed country on the continent after its southern neighbour.
However, speaking during a radio debate Wednesday, Charamba denied his boss shunned the local health system, claiming that it was on the advice of his local doctor that Mugabe sought specialised attention for his eyes in Singapore.
“The President goes to Singapore for a very specific problem which has to do with the level of sophistication of medical skills that we have developed.
“It has to do with his eyes.”
Charamba also revealed that Mugabe’s problem with his eyes often make him look like he is sleeping at conferences.
“I have felt very, very pained. In fact, I feel like a failure when there is this reading that the President is sleeping in conferences, no,” he said.
“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.”
He continued; “For the rest of his body, the President gets attended to here.
“It is just that particular area and even then, it was not his decision, it was the decision of opticians who suggested that with the state of his age, with the state of the problem he was having visually, it was important that he gets advanced attention which is obtainable in Singapore.”
Charamba said Mugabe was not the only head of state to seek medical attention abroad.
“By the way, that (Singapore) is an international health dispensing institution. You meet First World leaders there who are coming for medical assistance in Singapore.
“So, really, there is nothing untoward in the President of Zimbabwe, who has an African Zimbabwean physician, going abroad for specialised treatment.
“That does not take away the fact that we have an excellent medical services provision in this country. We have a number of specialised doctors, who are manning our institutions.”