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Africa
Apr 10 2012 7:56AM
 
Who is fooling who: Mugabe trending, about to die once more?
A normal life in Zimbabwe. Picture: Gallo Images
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Phuti Mosomane

According to a senior official of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party as reported by the Zimbabwe Mail, President Mugabe is battling for his life in a Singapore hospital.

The recent postponement of the cabinet meeting is also indicative of how dire the situation is.  

On Tuesday, local media in Zimbabwe reported that Mugabe is now willing to hand over power to his defence minister.

On Sunday, President Mugabe travelled to Singapore for a private visit to arrange post-graduate studies for his daughter.

"President Mugabe left the country yesterday (Saturday) evening on a private visit to Singapore," the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper said.

Twitter was dominated on Tuesday by Mugabe’s latest travel developments and speculation over his health, especially given the leader’s denial over his seeming ill health.

The Zimbabwean President scoffed at fears about his health and stated that he was "fit as a fiddle" on his 88th birthday in February.

He also poked fun at media reports about a life-threatening ailment.

"I have died many times," he said. "That's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once. I have died and resurrected and I don't know how many times I will die and resurrect."

 

Why a foreign country, or Singapore for that matter?

Africa leaders have a tendency to seek international health aid, often at the expense of the poor in their own country. Speculations that his visit to Singapore is due to health reasons are reasonable.

Robert Mugabe, 88, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, visited Singapore several times last year. His spokesman said the president had gone for cataract surgery amid repeated media reports that he was suffering from cancer. This week we are told, Mugabe would oversee arrangements for his daughter Bona to begin post-graduate work, after she received her accounting degree last year.

His health has been the subject of much speculation, especially since WikiLeaks last year released a 2008 US diplomatic cable saying Central Bank Chief Gideon Gono had told then-US ambassador James McGee that Mugabe had prostate cancer and had been advised by doctors he had less than five years to live.

Mugabe's health has been cited as one reason that a faction of his ZANU-PF party has pushed to rush new elections.

But Mugabe, who has already been named as his party's candidate for the next elections, has shot down rumours that he is sick.

Mugabe is believed to be recovering from prostate cancer, and last year flew repeatedly to Singapore, for what observers said were "rejuvenation treatments."

At key public events last year, including party conferences, Mugabe was seen falling asleep and generally appeared to be weakening.

 

Timelines: Robert Gabriel Mugabe

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born near the Kutama Jesuit Mission in the Zvimba District northwest of Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia to a Malawian father Gabriel Matibili and a Shona mother Bona, both Roman Catholic. He was the third of six children. He had two older brothers, and one of them, Michael, was very popular in the village. Both his older brothers died when he was young, leaving Robert and his younger brother, Donato. His father, Gabriel Matibili, a carpenter, abandoned the Mugabe family in 1934 after Michael died, in search of work in Bulawayo.

Mugabe was raised as a Roman Catholic, studying in Marist Brothers and Jesuit schools, including the exclusive Kutama College, headed by an Irish priest, Father Jerome O'Hea, who took him under his wing. Through his youth, Mugabe was never socially popular nor physically active and spent most of his time with the priests or his mother when he was not reading in the school's libraries. He was described as never playing with other children but enjoying his own company. According to his brother Donato his only friends were his books.

He qualified as a teacher, but left to study at Fort Hare in South Africa graduating in 1951, while meeting contemporaries such as Julius Nyerere, Herbert Chitepo, Robert Sobukwe and Kenneth Kaunda. He then studied at Salisbury (1953), Gwelo (1954), and Tanzania (1955–1957).

Originally graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Fort Hare in 1951, Mugabe subsequently earned six further degrees through distance learning including a Bachelor of Administration and Bachelor of Education from the University of South Africa and a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Laws, Master of Science, and Master of Laws, all from the University of London External Programme. The two Law degrees were earned while he was in prison, the Master of Science degree earned during his premiership of Zimbabwe.

After graduating, Mugabe lectured at Chalimbana Teacher Training College, in Zambia from 1955–1958, thereafter he taught at Apowa Secondary School at Takoradi, in the Western region of Ghana after completing his local certification at Achimota School (1958–1960), where he met Sally Hayfron, whom he married in April 1961. During his stay in Ghana, he was influenced and inspired by Ghana's then Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah. In addition, Mugabe and some of his Zimbabwe African National Union party cadres received instruction at the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute, then at Winneba in southern Ghana.

 

With additional reporting by Lebogang Boshomane and Reuters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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