Mugabe appears in public, ending death rumours

2014-01-20 14:34

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Harare – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has appeared in public for the first time in several weeks to mourn the death of his sister, ending speculation that he may be bedridden, in declining health or even dead.

The health of Mugabe (89), who has ruled since Rhodesia’s independence from Britain in 1980, is the hottest news topic for Zimbabwe’s 13 million people and its ruling Zanu-PF party.

Zanu-PF is struggling to keep a lid on a battle over succession. There are fears it could implode in a bloody factional fight that might even suck in the army if Mugabe dies without resolving the issue.

Mugabe, who has spent two weeks of his current bout of annual leave in Singapore, appeared at his official State House residence to accept condolences for his 78-year-old sister, Bridget, who died in Harare after spending three years in a coma.

Mugabe appeared downcast over his bereavement, but showed no visible signs of ill health as he greeted senior party officials and spoke of his sister’s life.

Rumours sparked by his recent absence from the spotlight have been swirling around Harare in the past two weeks. Some suggested that the veteran leader was seriously ill with others even suggesting he had died.

As with previous rounds of speculation, his lieutenants dismissed the rumours as baseless. Mugabe has denied that previous trips to Singapore were for prostate cancer treatment.

Joice Mujuru, Mugabe’s vice-president in government and in Zanu-PF, is front runner in the race to succeed the president. But her main rival, Justice Minister and former defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, has not given up, analysts said.

Mugabe himself maintains there is no crisis, arguing that the party is strong and organised enough to choose his successor at the right time. His critics say he wants to die in office.

In an editorial, the private Daily News, which is critical of Mugabe’s rule, called for more transparency about his health.

“Perhaps one way of mitigating the speculation around the president’s health is for the government to be as transparent as possible about his travels and his health, obviously balancing this against his rights as well as the interests of his family,” the newspaper said.

Senior government officials said Equatorial Guinea President Mbasogo Theodore Nguema had cancelled a planned visit to Harare on Monday following Bridget’s death. Mugabe had been expected to break his holiday to host Nguema.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.