'Healthy' Robert Mugabe back in Zimbabwe

 

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe arrived home from Asia this morning as his party denied reports he had suffered a health emergency.

Mugabe, 88, was met at the main Harare airport by party leaders and military chiefs under normal protocol. He did not speak to waiting reporters.

Mugabe's party dismissed reports that he had been gravely ill as "a lot of hogwash" from hostile Western media organisations.

He is scheduled to chair a ministerial meeting later today, two days later than scheduled, the party said.

Mugabe has made 10 trips to Singapore in the past 16 months, reportedly for medical treatment. Said to be under treatment for prostate cancer, he has called for elections this year and has been nominated as his party's only presidential candidate.

This time around, Mugabe left Harare on March 31 to supervise postgraduate studies for his daughter Bona, 22, in Hong Kong, his office said.

Intense speculation on his health came after a popular Nigerian preacher predicted the imminent deaths of elderly, autocratic southern African rulers. Malawi's 78-year-old president then died on April 5.

Zimbabwe's information minister Webster Shamu had invited reporters to the Harare airport to witness Mugabe's arrival. He said the media had "spread rumours".

"As you can see, the man is fit. Why do we lie and why do we panic?" he said, castigating reporters.

Mugabe landed in a private jet chartered by a diamond mining company. The state airline he routinely used was grounded by debts in January.

Reporters said his arrival was brisk and businesslike. Mugabe held the hand of his wife Grace and was dressed as usual in an impeccable dark business suit.

Mugabe has appeared robust at recent public appearances. In broadcasts marking his 88th birthday in February he said he was "as fit as a fiddle". He joked then he had been resurrected more often than Jesus Christ after detractors frequently pronounced him dead.

In the broadcasts, he also acknowledged he had not groomed a successor in his fractious Zanu PF party, a shaky coalition with former opposition leader prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed by regional mediators after violent, disputed elections in 2008.

Persistent reports of his failing health have intensified infighting in the party between factions led by vice president Joice Mujuru and defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Ms Mujuru's group has been weakened by the death of her husband, a former guerrilla leader and army commander seen as a major Zanu PF power broker.

General Solomon Mujuru was burnt beyond recognition in a mysterious house fire last year and though questions remained over how he died a court ruled there was no foul play.

Gen Mujuru's family has demanded his remains are exhumed from a national shrine for independent forensic analysis.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Workshop Deputy & Production Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A rare and exciting role has arisen within thi...

Recruitment Genius: HR Assistant

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a keen...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this multi-ac...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Specialist

£21000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an e...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat