Mugabe's health problems now affecting government operations

HARARE – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's mounting health problems are beginning to affect government as his limited work attendances are causing problems for the smooth running of operations, sources in the coalition revealed.

Mugabe’s continued absences from work means that the executive has met for just two hours in cabinet in the last two months and government officials report of piling work waiting for his signature.

Some cabinet Ministers confirmed that some urgent work has had to be shuttled to his mansion for signature, amid reports that his wife has become a major barrier and signs of her cracking under the stress of seeing her husband not responding well to treatment are said to be emerging.

At the moment Mugbe is only appearing in public after heavy jabs of sedatives that keeps him fit and aware for a few hours. 

MDC-T Secretary General and Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, has already claimed Robert Mugabe, is now sleeping through important meetings.

Biti told party supporters at a rally in Kuwadzana that he once held a two-and-a-half hour meeting with Mugabe during which the aging leader slept most of the time.

"I had a meeting with President Robert Mugabe and he slept for the better part of the meeting," Biti said.

Mugabe goes on holiday each year in Asia over the Christmas and New Year break. He also consults doctors in Asia and on his recent trip to New York for a UN General Assembly, he was caught by journalists with bags of drugs in a departmental store.

Ministers in the inclusive government said Friday they received notification that cabinet was cancelled Tuesday. Last week, Mugabe only attended the cabinet for about two hours. The last full cabinet meeting was on December 14.

Senior government officials in Harare say ministers are anxious because they need to make decisions to meet urgent deadlines.

The main goal of the two-year-old unity government was to reform repressive laws inherited from the previous ZANU-PF government so that free and fair elections can be held.

Irene Petras, director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said parliament has been unable to reform many laws because of delays by the executive.

The President is said to be struggling to shake off mounting health problems after undergoing a minor medical prostate cancer operation procedure in Singapore last month.

A senior official in the President’s close security has since revealed that Mugabe collapsed on Wednesday night and on Friday evening his wife commandeered the troubled national airline plane to fly him to Singapore for further treatment.

His prostate flared last month and other problems related to his advanced age have complicated his recovery.

Sources said Mugabe told his close henchmen that he was travelling to Singapore for a post-operative check.

His spokesman George Charamba who also acts as his bodyguard said he had a cataract removed during his annual break in Singapore last month, a claim which has since been dismissed by some of the President’s security men.

Charamba said Mugabe will return to Zimbabwe on February 20, the day before his 87th birthday bash, but sources said those plans have been put on hold.

Mugabe’s health remains a closely guarded secret.

Last month speculation was rampant in Harare and backed up by several well-placed sources that the 86-year-old had rushed back to Asia for a prostate operation, prompting a frenzy of succession plotting among the feuding factions in Zanu-PF.

Mugabe, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders who turn 87 on February 21, last month dismissed as "naked lies" media reports.

"We were just resting," said Robert Mugabe on his return from Singapore.

A heavily sedated Robert Mugabe is said to be in 24 hour medical surveillance by a team of Malaysian Medical doctors housed at Phillip Chiyangwa’s (his nephew) house, a stone throw from his mansion.

Mugabe has not given any indication that he intends to call time on his long political career and was, in fact, endorsed by his Zanu PF party as its Presidential candidate for general elections expected this year.

Meanwile, Mugabe’s sister Bridget, who collapsed during the burial of her sibling Sabina at the National Heroes’ Acre has been in hospital since August last year, and she is still critically ill and has been on and off in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Harare.