by Hauwa Gambo
Thought he said in February, that he was “fit as a fiddle”? Well, apparently not.
There was a family vigil overnight as president of Zimbabwe, the 88-year-old Robert Mugabe was said to be close to death, battling cancer in a Singapore hospital. Believed to be suffering from prostate cancer. Mugabe was flown to Singapore by private jet on Saturday for treatment. This would be the eighth time he has visited Singapore in the past year on the matter, reports say.
The Zimbabwe Mail, quoting a senior official of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, said the leader, who has ruled the country since its independence from Britain in 1980, was undergoing intensive treatment in Asia. Officially, of course, there is denial over his condition – his aides insist there is no medical emergency and he is in Singapore to oversee his daughter Bona’s enrolment at university as well as enjoy the Easter break. His family has also kept mum. But, as reports have noted, registration isn’t until September and his opponents insist that he could not have gone to deal with such a “small matter” in person.
According to the Daily Mail, he has undergone several therapy sessions in Asia, but his condition has now deteriorated and there were claims tonight that he has agreed to hand over power to his feared henchman and defense minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The rumour mill intensified over the past weeks because of his frail appearance, recalling for Nigerians the appearance of dictator Sani Abacha before his death. Today, the speculations heightened after the government postponed a cabinet meeting at the last minute. In addition to that, Zimbabwe’s vice president, Joice Mujuru, has reportedly cut short her trip to Asia to return home and purportedly prepare for the possibility of Mugabe’s death.
A diplomatic cable from Wikileaks last year said he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and given five years to live because it had spread. However, he has refused to take the advice of his doctors and step down. In February in fact, Mugabe declared himself ‘fit as a fiddle’ and in march he celebrated his birthday with a party costing about £650,000 – included in the menu was a cake shaped as a crocodile.
Mugabe – regarded by much of the world as a tyrant – has ruled the country since it attained independence in 1980.