PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has prostate cancer and was told by doctors in 2008 that the disease would kill him within five years, leaked US diplomatic cables have revealed.
According to a previously secret cable released by WikiLeaks on Friday, Mugabe’s battle with the disease was revealed to former US Ambassador James McGee by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, during a private meeting held on June 4, 2008.
In a report of the meeting released by WikiLeaks, McGee wrote: “Gideon Gono, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), told the Ambassador on June 4 that President Robert Mugabe has prostate cancer that has metastasised and, according to doctors, will cause his death in three to five years.
“According to Gono, Mugabe's doctor had recommended he cut back on his activities. (NOTE: Gono told us last year that Mugabe was ill and that his doctor had urged him to step down immediately. Mugabe had told his doctor, according to Gono, that he would leave office after the election).”
Using the time frame allegedly given by doctors, Mugabe will not live beyond 2013.
Gono rejected the account on Saturday night, telling New Zimbabwe.com in a brief statement: “It’s a lie. I wouldn’t even dare talk about that.”
Mugabe’s health has remained a closely guarded secret despite constant media speculation that he was battling advanced cancer.
The Zanu PF leader -- who turned 87 his year -- has made several trips to the Far East, supposedly to seek treatment although officials claimed he was having a minor eye problem attended to.
He was nominated to represent the party in elections he now insists must be held by March 2012.
Despite his reported ill health, American officials who have met Mugabe insist he is remarkably active and alert for a man his age.
Congressmen Donald Payne found Mugabe “alert and engaged” during a visit in June 2009, adding that he appeared “a vigorous 85-year-old in superb health”.
Again during another meeting in April of the same year with Norwegian minister, Erik Solheim, officials remarked on Mugabe's "incredible vitality given his age.”