VIDEO footage of President Robert Mugabe struggling to walk during the just-ended United Nations General Assembly in New York once again had Zimbabweans debating about the 93-year-old leader’s health.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mugabe was assisted by his aides as he left the podium after delivering a speech where he aimed his guns on United States President Donald Trump on Thursday.
Two days earlier, he was caught on camera sleeping as Trump made his maiden address at the annual event.
Mugabe has shown signs of frailty in the past, but former Finance minister Tendai Biti believes last week’s event raised fresh questions about the Zanu PF leader’s fitness.
“It’s a shame. Mugabe is bringing the country into disrepute,” he said.
“If that is our idea of our best foot forward as a country, then we are a global embarrassment. It is a shame to that which defines us as Africans.
“Basically, it was a display of the disjuncture between Mugabe’s physical needs and his neuron system. He is intelligent and knows the body is now disobeying him.
“It’s like a car that has gone off the rails, the driver wants to turn left but the car is rampaging to the right. It will end in disaster.”
Biti said because of his love for power, Mugabe will stay on hoping he will last another five years. Zanu PF has already endorsed him as its presidential candidate in next year’s elections.
“We are in trouble. His family genes live long and he is counting on that,” the former minister said.
“His mother lived to be 98 and Mugabe’s paternal grandfather lived way beyond a century. He is counting on that.”
Harare-based political commentator Maxwell Saungweme said Mugabe was a victim of his insatiable appetite for power.
“What do you expect from a 94 year old? To me, it’s not much about health but old age,” he said.
“There is a reason why the government set a retirement age. There is a reason why old people of his age must just be resting and telling folklores to their great grandchildren. This is normal and must be expected.
“The problem is people around him, who instead of being faithful and truthful to him and tell him to rest, they lie that he still has energy to get to 100 years. This is twaddle. It’s such an infamy.
“Collectively as Zimbabweans, we are guilty of not looking after this old man.
“We are guilty of lumbering this old man with running affairs of our country that us the younger ones should do.
“When one gets to that age, it is difficult to discern good from bad and it is the duty of grandchildren and great grandchildren to show the way. We owe that to him. We should force him to rest.”
First lady Grace Mugabe early this year said she will move her husband in a wheelbarrow so that he continues to rule even if he becomes incapacitated.