There has been growing rumours surrounding the health status and death of Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, in the last couple of days. claiming that the 91-year old leader, who has been absent from the country since Tuesday, had collapsed and died in Singapore.
However, the rumours were denied earlier today after the Herald newspaper was released with the headline ‘President well, fine”.
According to the Presidential spokesman George Charamba, stories about Mugabe’s health usually emerge each year when he takes his annual leave outside the country. “You cannot doubt that there will be a story on the President’s alleged death every January,” Charamba told the paper. He also blamed the ZimEye news website for starting the death rumours.
“This is the way the website seeks to improve its hits in order to get dirty money… There is a financial incentive to the grim lie,” he added. The Herald said that Mugabe was in the “Far East” but did not specify which country. They also reported that Mugabe is getting ready to celebrate his 92nd birthday on February 21.
Mugabe, who is the world’s oldest national leader, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. The ruling ZANU-PF party has been driven by factionalism for years, with Mugabe avoiding naming a successor. However, senior Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is seen as the front-runner to be the next president.
Speculation about Mugabe’s health began last year when he tripped and fell down some steps at a televised ceremony. In 2011, Wikileaks released a 2008 US diplomatic cable which stated that Mugabe was reported to have prostate cancer and had less than five years to live.