Zimbabwe deputy rushed to SA hospital

2011-08-27 17:40

Zimbabwe’s sickly second deputy president John Landa Nkomo (77) was rushed to South Africa this week for emergency medical treatment at a private hospital, sparking fresh concerns over his deteriorating health.

Nkomo has in recent weeks bowed out of the political limelight, with reports that he is suffering from cancer.

On Friday night, Nkomo’s health was the source of media speculation in Zimbabwe as the rumour mill did the rounds, fuelling speculation that he had died in South Africa’s Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.

He is reportedly being cared for at the hospital alongside Herbert Murerwa, another longtime ally of President Robert Mugabe. Murerwa is suffering from colon cancer.

If Nkomo suddenly died so soon after the late Solomon Mujuru, it would cause fresh uncertainty within Zanu-PF as it struggles over who will take the reins after Mugabe.

Nkomo’s son, Jabu Nkomo, denied the rumours of his father’s death.

He said: “It’s not true. On Friday morning his health had seriously deteriorated, but he was much better ­later on in the evening.”

The Zimbabwe government has also denied the flurry of media speculation, with Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba saying the 77-year-old was expected back in the country over the weekend.

Webster Shamu, information and media publicity minister, also dismissed the rumours and said: “It’s not true at all.
“These are the usual rumours that are bandied about by our detractors who obviously don’t wish us well.”

A visibly unwell Nkomo was last seen in public at the burial of the late General Solomon Mujuru at National Heroes Acre last weekend.

He needed a walking cane and two aides to move around.

It is understood that Mugabe’s concern over the health of his second deputy may have influenced his decision to appoint Joyce Mujuru ahead of him as acting president, while Mugabe was away in Luanda, Angola, last week to attend an SADC summit.

Nkomo is viewed as one of the moderates in Zanu-PF and has been mentioned as a ­possible successor to Mugabe, but old age and ill-health may prove to be insurmountable hurdles.

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