Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s decision to take his daughter on a trip to Japan without his wife has sparked fresh speculation about his health.
The 91-year-old leader is in Japan for a United Nations summit on disaster management and will reportedly stop over in Singapore for a medical check-up.
President Mugabe sparked a storm back home when he was seen flanked by his 23-year-old daughter and Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi at a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the weekend.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition party said the president was in serious breach of protocol by taking his daughter to a meeting to discuss State affairs.
However, the focus has turned to President Mugabe and his 49-year-old wife’s health problems.
The two underwent major operations in Singapore in December and First Lady Grace Mugabe is yet to fully recover and hence her decision to miss her husband’s week-long trip to Asia.
‘NO LONGER FIT’
The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the latest incident showed that President Mugabe was no longer fit to rule.
“The old man should simply step down and rest,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said. “He is not doing any good by clinging onto power whilst he is not 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.”
But Information minister Jonathan Moyo insisted that President Mugabe was still fit to lead Zimbabwe and said there was nothing extraordinary about his daughter accompanying him to a meeting.
President Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, has admitted that he suffers from eye cataracts but leaked United States diplomatic cables also revealed that he suffers from prostate cancer.
Last month, he caused a stir at the Harare International Airport when he fell on the red carpet after addressing a crowd that had gathered to welcome him after a trip to Ethiopia.
His wife returned home only last month, having left the country in December for Singapore, where she underwent an operation to remove her appendix.