There are rumors that Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is dead after the 92-year-old made a stop in Dubai to receive medical care this week en route to Singapore.
Mugabe allegedly fell ill while attending the South African Development Community (SADC) meeting in Swaziland, Times Live reported.
The Zimbabwean government has not confirmed the purpose of Mugabe’s visit to Dubai. According to the Daily Star, Mugabe was heading to Singapore, where he has traveled to receive medical treatment in the past. While there is talk that Mugabe has been admitted to a hospital in the Middle Eastern country, there are also claims that he stopped in Dubai to attend to personal business.
Following reports that Mugabe’s plane diverted to Dubai due to his failing health, a family member has dismissed rumors that he suffered a brain hemorrhage, Zimbabwe Newsday reported. Meanwhile, presidential spokesman George Charamba has refused to shed light on the purpose of Mugabe’s visit to Dubai.
“I will not give you the purpose of the President’s visit to run away from the default explanation. This is not new. It is year in, year out; he is sick, he dies and resurrects. His life until the age of 92 revolves around illness and death,” Charamba said.
Despite the silence about his condition, talks that Mugabe is dead continue to spread. According to Zimbabwe Newsday, Mugabe’s health has suffered due to his old age and tasking work schedule.
Sleeping as country burns … President Robert Mugabe turned 91 this year and refuses to retire pic.twitter.com/thJAZdra70
— Newsday Zimbabwe (@newsdayreporter) July 17, 2015
Robert Mugabe, who took power in 1979 after a struggle against the white minority Rhodesian government, is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. There have been many calls for Mugabe to retire due to his age as images have surfaced of him apparently sleeping at official meetings. Last year, several of Mugabe’s bodyguards were punished after he tripped and fell at a red carpet event while returning from a trip to Ethiopia, IBTimes reported.
— Zimbabwe Today (@ZimToday) February 9, 2015
Later that year, Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, who is said to be one of his potential successors, revealed that he would rule the country until he is 100 years old, Independent reported. Mugabe has reportedly had difficulties walking. Grace said a “special wheelchair” was being created for him.
There are often rumors that Mugabe is dead. In January, there were talks that Mugabe had died. But it turned out that he had been on vacation in Asia.
The latest rumor that Mugabe is dead comes as waves of protests rock the country. Over the past two months, there have been protests in Zimbabwe as calls for economic and political reforms get louder. Alongside the protests, there have been widespread strikes over unpaid salaries, the Financial Times reported. Zimbabwean police have been accused of cracking down on the protesters using tear gas and water cannons, VOA reported. Several protesters have also been detained and beaten, according to iOL News. A human rights activist claimed some protesters were in “critical condition” after being beaten while in police custody.
Meanwhile, ahead of a major protest by a coalition of opposition parties on Friday, the Zimbabwean government has banned all demonstrations on the street for two weeks in the country’s capital, Harare, VOA reported. The protesters, who were set to deliver a petition to the country’s electoral commission, have accused the electoral body of being biased in favor of Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-PF).
According to eNCA, the police decided to impose the ban on protests to preserve public order. The penalty for violating the ban includes a year in prison and a fine.
The opposition parties have postponed their protests scheduled for Friday by two weeks while branding the government’s move as a violation of Zimbabwe’s constitution.
[Photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP Photo]