PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe left Harare for Singapore Friday evening with local media speculating that his wife, Grace, is in the Asian country seeking treatment for what was described as a serious ailment.
Mugabe has travelled to Singapore quite a few times this year for what officials described as routine check-ups following an operation to correct a cataract problem.
His spokesman, George Charamba was quoted by the privately-owned Standard newspaper saying he had not been briefed on the reasons for the latest trip.
“It could be that they went to visit their daughter (Bona) who is on attachment in China, because they usually meet up in Singapore but then maybe there is something else,” Charamba said.
“However, it cannot be anything serious. Usually, if I am in Harare, I will go and see him off at the airport and I would be briefed on the reason on why he is travelling but I am in Kadoma attending a Zimbabwe Media Commission conference.”
Striking Air Zimbabwe pilots had to be scrambled to fly Mugabe out with the airline’s chairman, Jonathan Kadzura, insisting they could not refuse to perform what he described as ‘national duty’.
“There is a difference of going on strike for commercial flights and flying on national duty,” Kadzura told The Standard. “You can’t say no to national duty because yesterday’s flight wasn’t a commercial one.”
Mugabe’s latest trip comes amid renewed speculation over his health after the 87-year old leader was photographed struggling with his step and being carted around in a golf buggy during a recent meeting of the regional SADC grouping in Livingstone, Zambia.
However, local media reported that Mugabe may have accompanied his wife, Grace, who is said to be battling to recover from a dislocated hip after slipping in the bathroom at the couple’s Borrowdale residence.
Charamba said he was not aware of the alleged bathroom mishap.
“I have not heard about it. However, what I know is that the First Lady, after the birth of Chatunga, developed some slight discomfort with her back but that was a long time ago,” The Standard quoted him as saying.