Mugabe blows millions on "eye cataract"

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe who was rushed to Singapore on Thursday for treatment will blow millions of dollars at a time when the economy is on its knees.\r\n

The money will cover Mugabe’s bills while in Singapore and allowances for him and his entourage which usually accompanies the octogenarian leader on his foreign trips. Insiders in the banking sector told the Daily News that “a few” millions to cater for Mugabe’s trip had been withdrawn.

According to national budget figures, Mugabe spends tens of millions of United States dollars on his regular visits outside the country every year, but finer details of his allowances and spending culture are a closely guarded secret. The latest trip comes two weeks after Mugabe returned from another medical review in Singapore.

Finance minister Tendai Biti disclosed late last year that government trips had gobbled US$27 million and a majority of them being Mugabe’s frequent jaunts, where he normally travels with large entourages of up to 100 people.

As revealed by Daily News on Wednesday, George Charamba confirmed in the international media that his boss had gone for “his final check up.”

“He is going for his final check-up. As you know, after a cataract operation, there is a period of two weeks to check up. He is using a commercial flight,”  Charamba told AFP.

Mugabe quietly slipped out of the country and is expected back on Sunday.

While Charamba has publicly said that Mugabe’s health problems are a result of the cataract operation, government insiders, local and international media have insisted that the veteran leader is suffering from prostate cancer which is giving him serious problems.

“It’s clear that the old man is in pain, and as you have already observed, he has been overworked. When he came back from Singapore less than two weeks ago, he attended lengthy meetings in government, with Zanu PF officials and his security people.

“After that, he travelled to the Chiadzwa diamonds fields where he spent time there and was clearly struggling to climb up the stairs. He also had to address the anti-sanctions rally and before that he attended the football match between Dynamos and CAPS just after spending hours at his birthday celebrations.

“It is clear that the old man is being overworked but  in  Zanu PF they have to do that because there is no other face of the party except him. People still want to use and manipulate the old man but he is getting tired. Look at the way he is now leaning by the podium when speaking, look at how his speeches are slowing down and look at his body language,” observed one senior government official.

Mugabe admitted at his birthday celebrations that his body feels spent but he still had a young mind.

The Zimbabwean leader has of late been issuing contradictory statements in the media giving rise to speculation that his health problems are disorienting him.

In less than four months, Mugabe has flip-flopped on elections — at times claiming that he will unilaterally declare elections, but after the sanctions rally on Wednesday he changed his stance and admitted that he has no power to call for elections.