By UK Correspondent
ZIMBABWE’S long-time ruler Robert Mugabe was seriously ill for ten years, and throughout that time the family always knew that “any time the doctor (could) tell us he has a couple of days or months to live.”
This was revealed by Mugabe’s son, Robert Junior in an interview with local media personality Miss V Candy.
Mugabe Junior’s remarks likely represent the first time a family member has opened up about the veteran leader’s struggle with failing health which was closely guarded secret during his long reign.
Mugabe died in September 2019 aged 95 at the specialist Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore, some three years after being toppled by a military coup.
While in power, the veteran leader would draw criticism from the opposition and commentators over the cost of his regular annual trips to Singapore.
At the time foreign media claimed that the Zimbabwean strongman was receiving treatment for prostate cancer. Gleneagles Hospital is renowned for its specialist cancer services.
Although Harare officials would always play down the costly visits as being “for routine medical check-ups”, Robert Junior has now opened up about how seriously ill the Zanu PF leader was.
“My dad was sick for a long time – over 10 years,” he said.
“It was a matter of time. So, for those 10 plus years, we knew as a family that dad was sick and [at] any time the doctor can tell us he has a couple of days or months to live.
“But that day never came. So I guess within those 10 plus years, a lot was going on; emotional rollercoasters, so we spent as much time with him.”
The last six months were particularly difficult for the family.
“He (Mugabe) came to Singapore for his treatment and that’s when he stayed a couple of months,” said Robert Junior.
“But those five to six months when he was there, that’s when he was most ill. He wasn’t coming out of bed, he wasn’t walking and he didn’t want to eat. He was sick to the point [where] he was in a wheelchair.
“My mom would bath him and I would, at times, come help. It’s a lot seeing someone who used to take care of you at a point where they can’t take care of themselves. It’s painful.”
Understood to have been bitter over the former strongman’s inglorious exit from power at the hands of proteges and longtime allies, the Mugabes have largely largely kept their counsel and shied away from the limelight following his death.
However, Robert Junior has lately started attending ruling Zanu PF party events. He is also said to be eyeing a role in the party’s youth league at elections scheduled for early next month.
Meanwhile, he also opened up about the difficulties that came with being born to privilege.
“I didn’t have access to the freedom that everyone else had,” Robert Junior lamented.
“For me, the main thing in my life has always been freedom, getting personal freedom and for most of my life I never had that but financial freedom, okay fine, fine, yes, but then freedom of choice to be able to be where and who I want to be I didn’t have because of who my parents were.”