Questions over Mugabe's health

HARARE - Just over four years after the Daily News first raised the sensitive subject of whether President Robert Mugabe was still fit to rule, a new war has broken out in the strife-torn ruling Zanu PF over the frail nonagenarian’s state of health and his capacity to remain at the helm of the country.

This follows typically off-colour utterances by Mugabe’s controversial wife, Grace, at a rally in Mashonaland West last week, as well as ill-judged comments by the embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa that he made to a London-based magazine and over which he is receiving factional stick.

Speaking at Murombedzi Growth Point, the gaffe-prone Grace said, “Don’t criticise me because you hate my husband. Time will come when president Mugabe is gone, (and at that point) you will regret and wish that the president was around” — in remarks that some in Zanu PF interpreted as meaning that all was not well with Mugabe.

On his part, Mnangagwa — answering a seemingly innocuous New African magazine question on the post-Mugabe scenario — said, “We shall miss him (Mugabe) dearly (when he leaves). He is an outstanding leader and human being” — in comments that have placed him in the eye of a humongous storm in the ruling party which is wracked by deadly factional and succession wars.

Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said the hullabaloo about the well-being of Mugabe reflected the ugly divisions that continue to devour the ruling party, and how many ambitious bigwigs were already thinking about life after the nonagenarian who is increasingly showing his advanced age and declining health.

During the burial of High Court judge Andrew Mutema at the Heroes Acre at the weekend, Mugabe moved around with the assistance of Grace, taking brief rests as he followed the undertakers.

And during official opening of the Harare Agricultural Show, Mugabe moved around with the assistance of Mozambique president Filipe Nyasu. The nonagenarian has also lately cut down on the length of his speeches as calls for his retirement or resignation grow.

Mnangagwa’s remarks on the post-Mugabe future were publicly criticised by the minister of Higher Education, Jonathan Moyo, on Twitter — who went on to say the sentiments were “premature”.

“This (latest Zanu PF) war is about the health of the president and how this impacts on the multi-layered quests by various interested parties to succeed him, even as they all pretend that they are engaging in this fight for him and that they don’t want him to pass on,” a central committee member said bluntly.

The Daily News first broached the sensitive subject of whether Mugabe was still fit to rule in its relaunch issue in March 2011 — following nearly eight years of its forced and unjust closure by the nonagenarian’s government.

In addition to his advanced age and increasingly poor health, which is commensurate with people of his age, and which often sees the nonagenarian making frequent and costly State-funded visits to the Far East for medical attention, Mugabe is also having to contend with arguably his biggest political challenge since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in April 1980 — an open rebellion by many senior members of his ruling Zanu PF party who are impatient to see him leave office.

Analysts and spokespersons for opposition political parties who have previously spoken to the Daily News have said that it is time the nonagenarian stepped down as he had also allegedly now become a “lame duck” and “absentee” president who was often travelling outside the country on “frivolous” missions or for medical attention than actually governing the country.

A medical practitioner who spoke to the Daily News recently, but who cannot be quoted openly for professional reasons, said 91 years was “a blessed but very advanced age” where conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were common.

“There is no doubt that the president has been blessed with a long, relatively healthy life. But even for him, one can see that age has caught up with him, as is natural. Only about one in a million people have the same aptitude they had when they were 50 at that age,” the doctor said.

He said it was generally unwise to saddle people in that age group with the kind of stress and responsibility as that of a president, as they were no longer at peak performance both physically and mentally.

“Diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia at that age mean that one tends to have a short memory. Such people also usually dwell on the past and live their life in the past and fail to adapt to the present.

“Concentration is also a big challenge because people at that age find it difficult to stay awake for long periods. If you have to make an executive decision, you need to have an aptitude for current affairs,” the doctor added.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has said it was now time for Mugabe to pass on the baton stick to somebody else, who could stand up to the rigours of the job.

“Apparently, his health is failing and I think he is not doing himself any good by clinging onto power whilst he is now in that state of health.

“It’s time for him to take a bow from the hazardous and extremely demanding job of engaging in active politics. He should start writing his memoirs.

“In fact, I can volunteer to write his biography for absolutely no charge! The old man should simply step down and rest,” party spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

Gladys Hlatwayo, a Hubert Humphrey fellow at the University of Minnesota said as Mugabe was getting older and more frail, the centre within Zanu PF was increasingly shifting.

“It looks like the wife is now in the driving seat. The events in Zanu PF over the past six months support this theory. He (Mugabe) is human like all of us and other 91-year-olds are long retired and enjoying entertaining their grandchildren.

“This is why people are sceptical about his ability to rule at that advanced age,” she said.

Comments (23)

The nonagerian is very much aware of the crimes commited against humanity since independence eve to this day. Hence the reason of remaining at the helm of the country at that advanced age.

jackson - 31 August 2015

Very true comment from the Doc. They live in the past thus why they easily remember historical events. Vava vengano vana sekuru nana mbuya. Let us give the young ones their chance one has an intention to harm him or his family when he leaves the presidency, but people will want to know the truth from those who surrounded him and were thriving while the whole populace is starving to death. There is nothing to fear unless if there are those corrupt who have been stealing from the masses

dollarman - 31 August 2015

@Jackson....I totally agree with you but I think it's more punishing to continue being president of a country when one is 91 years old, both for him and everyone else. I think he cannot fathom the idea of having to move out of state house and just knowing someone else will be president before he dies.

misty - 31 August 2015

Those who work with him everyday need to tell him that at his he must be in Zvimba now eating nyemba. Ndakasvitarisisa mhani pasvakaenda kusouth africa Zuma aifamba akasviba twumaoko twunenge tsvimbo. Kave kubatsirwa kufamba pese pese. Kana dai dzisi nyadzi kaidai kofamba netsvimbo. Kusabate tsvimbo inyadzi chete asi zvakafanana nokuti tiri kuona kuti Gire ndiye ave mudonzvo. Ana Moyo nanaShiri nanaChiwenga nyaraiwo kani. Dai musiri imi kaidai kakaenda kare kamudhara aka. Sorry mhani ndinodawo kukakudza kamudhara aka somubereki wangu kuti mazuva angu awedzerwe asi ndokakudza sei nenhamo yakarikundikonzeresa.

hurungudo - 31 August 2015

Mugabe is a pervert. How can he preside over suffering people for the past 35 years without some semblence of conscience of giving them some relief, allowing another leader despitemounting failures. He may live 1 million years but anyone born of a woman will die and will account for all his deeds before Allah.

aminab - 31 August 2015

mugabe wants to die in office.period.

munhu - 1 September 2015

so let him

s simon - 1 September 2015

Grace ndiro benzi shuwa anorega harabwa ichitambura kudai for what...though i donot like Mugabe , i think the decision to stay in power rests mainly on Grace and the that age hapana reasoning apa.

Anesu - 1 September 2015

kachidhoma kekwazvimba aka kanetsa, the man must just die mhani. health wars mu zanu kkk my ass , ko pane asingazivi kuti kwave kuenda here uku. gore rino handifungi kuti rinopera tiinako . but i fear for the immediate post Mugabe era. naana Chiwenga awa tinopona here nhai Mwari weeee

5star General - 1 September 2015


JOHNS NYASHA - 1 September 2015

Gunkurahundess Grace should stop being funny. She actually is the one who will soon regret once Gukurahundi Mugabe is gone. If I were her; I would start relating to people well - otherwise she should watch out; we in Mthwakazi are coming for her and her children. We just want our pound of flesh for Gukurahundi and that we shall have, come what may!

Phunyukabemphethe - 1 September 2015

Sekuru vakura ava mhani kudazvinhuchete kudakufira pastate house but zviri right hazvo asi tichatora zvese zvamakashanda pamagumo tinofara kuti nyika inoziva hufumi hwamunaho we will ground you to ero the gushungos even the chiwengas they dont like you they fear you muroyi mugabe

mukomana - 1 September 2015

Saka imwi hamuchachemberi? Vamwe makatadza kuchengeta vabereki vakafa vasati vasvika 91 years. Vam Mugabe vachengetwa na Mwari. Who doesn't wish to reach that age 91 years asingafambi nemdonzo? Achitaura chirungu? Achigona kuverenga? Achigona kunyora? Mugabe is a miracle from God. Kana ivo ana Mnangagwa vanoti "we will miss him", ko akamutangira ke? Hupenyu ndewaShe. Long live President.

Ngwekazi - 1 September 2015

ngwekazi.vadaidzwa nani pano taura vakuru who gave u the permission to speak urikurasika papi please this is our daily news not herald please go and put your rotten comments to herald as usual,zimusoro

dhindindi - 1 September 2015

Ngwekazi i think you are confused, i dont want to reach 91 years old. Hapana munhu anoda kurarama achizorwa ndove kumusana

gaga - 1 September 2015

@gaga, munhu kunzi mupenyu anopihwa 'breadth of life' naMwari. In the Bible we read of people living up to more than 100 years. Saka moda kuti President acommite suicide here? @dhindindi, hauna nyaya. The only people who can block me are the owners of the paper not an ordinary person like you. Open your paper I wont comment

Ngwekazi - 1 September 2015

KaHarahwa hey! Was assessing my grandfather at 89years old. He no longer remembers things. He falls whenever he walks without a stick. His vision is failing fast. His hearing is failing fast. Then I imagine kamu92year old (that's a cool 3years older) sekuru is running the country!? Mai mai! That is why those surrounding him are stealing like no body will live tomorrow. Even the Chinese loan money for Morton Jeffery water works was stolen iko kakarara. Even the funds for TV and radio digitalization was syphoned big time! Kuzoti madiamonds! Kuzoti gold kuRBZ and FIDELITY!? Haaaaa, idzi imboko ZPF Pasi!

KEKE - 1 September 2015

Lets comment with respect. I don't think you will love to hear people say KA baba wako KA mai vako. Your grandfather is 89 years old who knows he will reach 100 years. Yoita mhoswa here?

Ngwekazi - 1 September 2015

Hey consider this: 1890 settlers come into Zimbabwe. 1930 The first African standard 6 graduates come into stream 1940 - 1960 Construction of highways, rail, telecoms, electric power, radio TV. Construction of Salisbury, Bulawayo, Umtali, Gwelo, Kariba, All the towns and cities. 1960 - 1979 Modernize infrastructure especially transport systems (remember : Salisbury United : City : Greendale : Kambuzuma : Light Industrial Sites : Heavy Industrial Sites : City! 1980 - 1990 : Corruption Willowgate scandal. Education, Health for all by 2000. Paweni scandal. 1990 - 2000 Boka scandal. War vets scandals; First Lady Scandals chihure, DRC War scandals; 2000 - 2015 : Gono scandals; All hell breaks loose scandals all over! Zim dollar is dead. USDollar yevavengi in circulation.

Tata - 1 September 2015

KaBaba aka ka vintage. Chi smoking BEDFORD Truck chirikuvharira fast lane kuti sports cars : Maserati; Lamborghini; dzitadze ku winner race. Asi kari kusiya maChina achitora hupfumi hwedu kuendesa kuBeijing. Mwana wangu ini kana akazoda kushandisa chrome, gold, platinum to build a Zim made jet, achawana zvese zvaungana kuChina. Ko achazoshandisei iko kadhara kakafa kurara!? Pindura? Iwe mwana wako achange achiita kabasa kaunako ikako here kanokupa T/S uchichengeta kaHarahwa? Ndoo legacy yakowo yauchasiira mwana wako iyoyo, Machaina vachiba kaHarahwa kakarara?

KEKE - 1 September 2015

Emmerson Munangawa is the man for next president. Definately not Morgan Tsvangirai. Grace will not rule this country as Zimbabweans are not ready for a woman president. All those people surrounding the First Lady are all pretenders vari kungoda kudya chete because deep down in their souls they do not like Grace and are her worst haters. Come elections it will be a secrete ballot and all those people around her non of them will cast a vote in her favour. The Zanuf (PF0 women's league is not Zimbabwe even the G40 is not Zimbabwe. If I was Grace I would tread with care for this people are merely using her. Savour Kasukuwere does not like Grace at all and he too cannot be president of this country as he is among the most hated men in Zimbabwe.

Razaro Zimbabwe Ndeyangu - 2 September 2015

It is proper for the likes of Ngwekaz to just read in silence while they enjoy the ill gotten fruits of the poor Zimbabwean. It is not very hard to imagine Ngwekaz as a filthy rich beneficiary of the Zanu PF parasitism. He does not mind exposing a grossly preposterous mind in defence of the foundation of his wealth. For example, the half wit finds fault with the majority of the needy for being incapable of fending for their aging fathers, culminating in their demise, whereas Mugabe got God's blessings. Therefore God so loved Mugabe that he gave people of Zimbabwe to enslave to death while Ngwekaz and his thugs are paid to suppress good reasoning.

Mr Dete - 2 September 2015

Ma1 chaiwo

hanzu - 3 September 2015

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