PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe again appeared in public without his wife, Grace, as the Zanu PF hierarchy turned out in force at the National Heroes Acre on Thursday to bury Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Deputy Director General, Menard Muzariri.
The First Lady rarely skips state occasions with Mugabe, but there was no sign of her on Thursday as speculation continues to mount over her health.
A newspaper report claimed Mugabe commandeered an Air Zimbabwe plane last Friday to accompany his wife to Singapore for treatment.
The report claimed she slipped in the bathroom of the couple’s mansion in Harare’s leafy Borrowdale suburb and dislocated her hip.
Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, stoked the speculation when he claimed not to have been briefed on the President’s 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.
But in a display of unusual candour regarding the health of the first couple, Charamba disclosed that Grace suffered from a “slight discomfort with her back” which has troubled her since the birth of her last child, Chatunga, 14 years ago.
After the couple flew to Singapore last Friday, their fourth such trip there in as many months, some media organisations speculated it may in fact have been cover for Mugabe, whose own health has been a subject of much speculation.
But the President compounded his critics when he visited Muzariri’s widow on Tuesday evening, and appeared to be in good health.
And in a speech lasting almost an hour on Thursday, Mugabe showed no obvious signs of ill-health.
Mugabe, 87, was in Singapore at the end of December for his annual holiday and returned there two more times before last week, apparently for a correction of complications from an eye surgery operation he underwent during his holiday.