Is this video of Mugabe struggling to plant a tree the saddest clip of 2016?

2016-12-20 18:00
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP)

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Cape Town - If ever it was time to feel sorry for Zimbabwe's ageing president Robert Mugabe, now may be the day.

A short video clip snapped of him planting - or trying to plant - a tree in Masvingo has plunged Mugabe watchers into a social media frenzy.

Dressed in a white coat and a wide-brimmed hat, Mugabe struggles to lift a shovel to move soil to the hole where the tree has already been placed.

Officials stand by nervously as Grace Mugabe, the president's much younger wife, looks on with what may well be increasing impatience.

"Just pull it to one side," she can be heard saying before she eventually grabs the shovel from him and finishes off the shovelling herself.

Watch the video below.

Locals cheer when the job is done, though it's not clear whether they're cheering out of relief or a sense of duty.

Commented one Zimbabwean on Twitter: "Ironic cheers from the 'faithful' hangers on sound like a massive relief their 'Shefu' [chief] didn't keel over and die from exertions." 

Said @speaks_beats: "Mugabe trying to plant a tree is the saddest video I have watched this year."

Mugabe's government has long denied that the 92-year-old president is in anything but fine health. But photos and sneakily-snapped videos often show otherwise, with the president appearing increasingly frail and tired. 

A video taken from the public gallery in parliament during Mugabe's SONA speech earlier this month showed Mugabe struggling to descend a couple of steps after he made his speech. Few have forgotten the furore over #MugabeFalls, the rash of internet memes spawned by the president's red carpet stumble at Harare International Airport in February 2015.

Mugabe (and his family) are likely to leave soon on their annual holiday, often spent in Singapore and Dubai.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  grace mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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