PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe made his first public appearance on Tuesday after his mysterious trip to Singapore last Friday – his fourth in as many months.
Mugabe, 87, visited the family of Menard Muzariri, the late Deputy Director General of the Central Intelligence Organisation, who died on Monday.
But his wife Grace, reported to be ill, was not present.
A newspaper report on Sunday said Mugabe had accompanied the First Lady for hospital treatment in Singapore after she slipped in the bathroom of their Borrowdale mansion and dislocated her hip.
Adding to the intrigue was Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, who claimed not to have been briefed on the President’s latest trip.
Charamba speculated that they may have been visiting their daughter, Bona, who is on work placement in China. She attends university in Hong Kong.
Asked about Grace Mugabe’s health, the normally reticent Charamba said the only health issue he was aware of relating to the First Lady was “slight discomfort with her back” which has followed her since the birth of her last child, Chatunga, 14 years ago.
It has been speculated that last Friday’s trip, made possible by a commandeered Air Zimbabwe plane, may in fact have been necessitated by Mugabe’s own health concerns.
Mugabe was in Singapore at the end of December for his annual holiday and has returned there two more times, apparently for a correction of complications from an eye surgery operation he underwent during his holiday.
Mugabe appeared in good nick for his age on Tuesday as he visited Muzariri’s grieving widow and dozens of mourners gathered at the family's home in Borrowdale.
He announced that the Zanu PF politburo had declared Muzariri a national hero, a status which comes with burial at the National Heroes’ Acre.
Public interest will be heightened at Muzariri’s burial, likely on Saturday, to see if the First Lady would be present. She normally attends state occasions with the President.
A second chance to see her would be Independence Day on April 18 when Mugabe normally officiates.