Mugabe's health woes sparks intense infighting in Zanu PF
As anxiety grows about President Robert Mugabe's health, divisions in Zanu-PF have worsened, with the two main camps angling to succeed the veteran leader intensifying their internal battle for control of the party.
Mugabe’s health concerns escalated last week when he was rushed to Singapore for what spokesman George Charamba said was "the last review on his minor cataract operation".
It is the second time Mugabe has had to travel to Singapore for treatment, raising speculation that the 87-year-old octogenarian might have serious health problems.
While his people maintain he travels to Singapore for cataract problems, diplomatic sources and the international media say Mugabe is fighting prostate cancer.
Health experts said a cataract operation was so minor that there was no need to regularly travel to the Far East for reviews.
Zimbabwe’s most celebrated eye surgeon, Solomon Guramatunhu, who also happens to treat Mugabe on a regular basis, told Voice of America last week that cataract surgeries did not need regular follow-ups.
He was speaking after being asked an open question without necessarily referring to Mugabe.
"In fact a cataract patient should be able to drive their car the next day after surgery," he said.
Such explanations have swelled rumours that Mugabe could be facing a more complicated disease and this has escalated the fight between the faction led by Emmerson Mnangagwa and the one led by retired General Solomon Mujuru.
The Mujuru camp is reportedly pushing for Mugabe to remain in power and, when he becomes incapacitated, Joyce Mujuru would take over as acting president. Mujuru has the support of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party.
But the Mnangagwa camp, which now includes the army generals, and which seems to have the upper hand in Zanu-PF succession politics, wants Mugabe to remain their leader for now and to push for elections where he will force his way in. After, that they believe Mugabe would appoint Mnangagwa as his successor.
Former minister of information, Jonathan Moyo, who was recently recalled to push the Zanu-PF propaganda machine, said Mugabe was still fit enough to rule for some years.
"Without doubt and prejudice, the president is one of the healthiest in the world among people of his age. It’s cynical to suggest that the president is not well. He is the most thoughtful person of his age.
"What is significant is that he left for Singapore a day after a stunning performance at the anti-sanctions launch. Medical reviews are routine and the only difference now is that the doctor is in Singapore. That he is going for a second time is not an issue."
Mugabe seems to be overextending himself to prove to people that he is still strong enough to lead the nation.
Soon after returning from Singapore two weeks ago, Mugabe engaged in lengthy meetings with his fellow principals in the GPA, met his security chiefs and had discussions with his Zanu-PF people.
Mugabe admitted at his birthday celebrations that his body felt spent but he still had a young mind.