Robert Mugabe told by doctors his time is up; he will not be Zanu PF candidate in 2018

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HARARE -In the aftermaths of his unusual remarks at the weekend President Robert Mugabe, 91 will definitely not be Zanu PF presidential candidate in the 2018 elections amid reports from a Germany media that he has been told by his doctors to quit.

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Mugabe did not put a time line on when he would go, but he said Zimbabwe was in a (financial) crisis and that he would retire, but would do it “properly”. It was not clear what he meant by “properly”. Mugabe has always maintained he would never retire and would die in office.

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He was speaking at the weekend to a group of people involved in the 1970s war against minority white rule and who claim they are owed money by the state, which can neither fund them nor pay civil servants on time.

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In a development opening the floodgates for candidates both in the ruling Zanu PF party and opposition to contest the watershed 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections, President Robert Mugabe, is officially not going to run for office, after reportedly being advised to drop out of the race by his Asian medical doctors, Spotlight Zimbabwe reported; according to a report from a Germany publication.

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The report says although Mugabe’s administration has put up a brave face to endorse him as the ruling party’s candidate for 2018, with top officials falling over each other to shower him with praise and calls for a life presidency, government insiders close to the Office of the President and Cabinet, have revealed that the ailing Zanu PF strongman is not going to stand for re-election, and that a “shock announcement” in this regard will be made at the appropriate time.

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The country is due to hold it’s next harmonised elections by July 22 2018, in line with electoral laws enshrined in the new Constitution.

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Mugabe has over the years endured a cocktail of health woes, including eye cataract problems, reported prostate cancer and paining swollen feet. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and is the principal cause of blindness in the world.

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“The President’s medical records are classified and private,” said a senior official with links to his office. “I cannot disclose anything, but he (Mugabe) has a clean bill of health at the moment. However he is not going to contest the coming elections, after being told by doctors that the campaigning alone will take a heavy toll on him. You will soon find out for yourselves, but the long and short of it is that he is already out of that race.”

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As his advanced age seems to be affecting his pressing work schedule, Mugabe in April this year reportedly flew in four doctors from Singapore to attend to him ahead of the Heroes Day and Defence Forces Day commemorations. The nonagenarian is now a prominent health tourist, at the opulent Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore.

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It has also come to light, that the President had also drastically reduced his daily working routine to 30-minute afternoon sessions. The revelation was recently made by a Japanese columnist, Ken Yamamoto, who is believed to have access to state secrets around Mugabe and his regime.

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“Except when he has pressing meetings, Mugabe now works 30 minutes a day, often coming to his office around 3pm and leaving half an hour or so afterwards to go home and sleep,” Yamamoto has been quoted by the media as saying.
Mugabe is set to go for another round of medicals in Singapore, Hong Kong or Malaysia when he goes for his annual Christmas holiday with his family in December. Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is expected to be acting president until Mugabe comes back home at the end of January in 2017. Intelligence sources have hinted that, it could be possible that VP Mnangagwa before then could be President and running the country to finish off Mugabe’s term.

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Spotlight Zimbabwe also claims that it been told and can put it on record that the 2018 make or break presidential ballot is going to pit Mnangagwa against former prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai. Opposition legislators from the MDC last week told this publication, that ex-VP Joice Mujuru and her Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), will eventually come around in support of Tsvangirai. However Mujuru is expected to have his chosen party officials independently running for parliament against Tsvangirai and the ruling party.

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Mugabe told the “war collaborators” that he believed he had now “defeated… the British and Americans…” and that he understood times were difficult in Zimbabwe. “We are in a critical time… for regime change.”

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It has never been clear what Mugabe and the governing Zanu-PF mean when referring to “regime change”, as the British have few financial interests in Zimbabwe and the Americans “have zero political and economic interest in Zimbabwe”, said a senior Western diplomat this week.

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Mugabe regularly tells supporters that Zimbabwe has unexplored financial riches, but that is not what local geologists and other analysts say.

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“There was a time, some years ago, when Zimbabwe seemed important, that it could be a powerhouse in the region, but that moment has long gone, and now it is hard to find anyone who can forecast how it can repay its debts even with a new leadership, let alone attract foreign investment,” said a Harare-based financial analyst who asked not to be named.

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“There are no so-called unexplored minerals. The best opportunities are a few, well-managed small mines, but nothing big.”

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He also questioned why anyone with alternatives would choose to live in Zimbabwe, as it was short of water and electricity. “There is not much to attract anyone to Zimbabwe these days. It is not a particularly comfortable or attractive place to live nowadays.”

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Zanu-PF says Mugabe will be its candidate in the 2018 elections and will only retire in 2023, when he 99. Mugabe told his old friend Cephas Msipa four months ago that he would never retire.

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Mugabe also acknowledged that there were factions within Zanu-PF, but that they would come together ahead of the next elections. Veteran Zimbabwe political analyst Brian Raftopoulos says chances that the fractured opposition could win the next elections are “bleak”.

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Zimbabwe is so broke it has largely run out of the cash it uses – US dollars – and later this week, a new currency called Bond Notes will emerge in some bank exporters’ bank accounts.

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Robert Mugabe’s health has been an all-consuming topic this year for Zimbabweans of all classes, as the effects of age and possible illness have become harder for Mr. Mugabe to hide. Many Zimbabweans, who have known only one leader since gaining independence 36 years ago, are bracing for the future with the same trepidation that many Chinese felt near the end of Mao Zedong’s long rule, or that the Congolese did with Mobutu Sese Seko. They speak about “when the old man goes” or “when nature takes its course.”

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The uncertainty of a post-Mugabe political order compounds the anxieties. The political class is engulfed in a ferocious fight over succession, and it is far from clear where the security forces, the traditional guarantors of Mr. Mugabe’s power, will stand.

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In the capital, politicians and diplomats report that Mr. Mugabe has slowed down considerably in the past year. He works only a few hours a day and says little in meetings. Several times, he has been caught on video stumbling or falling asleep at public events.

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Like most wealthy Zimbabweans, Mr. Mugabe goes abroad for better medical care than he can get at home. That narrows the circle of Zimbabweans who are truly informed about his health — and it means that every time he flies, especially on extended or unannounced trips outside Africa, the rumors fly as well, often claiming that he has died or is at death’s door.

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“There will never be a thing called a vacuum, so if the officials are not giving information, rumors will fill the vacuum,” said Tendai Biti, the president of an opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party. “The feelings of uncertainty are a byproduct of a very unstable environment created by the president himself.”

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“But this is not unique to Zimbabwe,” added Mr. Biti, who served as finance minister in a coalition government from 2009 to 2013. “Mobutu used to die so many times. In Uganda, Idi Amin used to die so many times. In China, Chairman Mao used to die so many times. In Russia, how many times did Brezhnev used to die?”

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This time, the speculation about Mr. Mugabe seemed to have more foundation than usual. He had been scheduled to go to Ghana in mid-August to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Millennium Excellence Foundation for helping to liberate Zimbabwe, but canceled the trip at the last minute.

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When he resurfaced several days later at an agricultural show, his appearance merely fanned the flames. He seemed to stumble at one point and was apparently wearing slippers rather than shoes with his suit.

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Mr. Mugabe appeared to bounce back, flying to Kenya on Aug. 26 for a conference, followed by a meeting in Swaziland. After that, however, UM1’s movements began raising alarms in some circles. The plane left Swaziland a day before the conference ended, spent three hours in Harare and then took off again for Dubai, arriving on the morning of Aug. 31.

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Eddie Cross, a lawmaker with the main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, wrote on his blog the next day, “We hear that the Old Man had a stroke.” He added, “It would have been so much more dignified if he had recognized that his ‘sell by’ date had arrived and he had retired and handed over to a chosen successor.”

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