Mugabe’s mansion-collapse: report corroborated

HARARE – On Wednesday 18 May 2011, The Zimbabwe Mail revealed in a report the collapse of President Mugabe at his mansion and the aftermath swift denial by him in the State media claiming that he was not ill; well, our story has been corroborated by fresh commentaries by two more of his security details who witnessed the event.

As a national duty, The Zimbabwe Mail news team has responded by making a follow up and did further investigation as to what transpired in that eventful late Tuesday night and also to do justice to the first report we gave to our readers and so, last night two more security men for the President’s security corroborated our first report and in the process we got to know fresh information about the health of the President.

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We are not going to publish some of the information because of its sensitive nature and also we still believe he deserves some degree of privacy as an individual.

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The 87-year-old president has scoffed at speculation over his health as “misplaced” and says he and his wife are fitness enthusiasts.

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Mugabe told the state media they were both in “sound health.”

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In excerpts of an interview published Thursday by the state Herald newspaper, he said he exercised regularly and recently only had an eye cataract operation. He said his wife was undergoing physiotherapy for a dislocated hip which may have been made worse by exercise.

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On Thursday, at the Harare International Airport our reporter confronted the President’s close security man who gave us the initial information about his latest health woes.

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The meeting was brief and lasted as little less than 3 minutes because he thought he was on surveillance and so we chose the toilet as the best venue for our “mini conference”.

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The man was vehemently adamant that President Mugabe collapsed when he tried to get up from the couch.

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“Inzwaka shamwari, pakasvika vanhu vaaida kutawura naShefu kumalate hours, saka paakati rega ndisumuke ndiyende muOffice yemumba akangoeerekana adonha, lucky he was still close to the sofa.

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Kana usingatye chifonera number iyi (he gave me a mobile number). But be careful”, he said giving me a chilling warning. He also gave me a security code to clear myself on ringing this number.

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I tried the number on Thursday night and spoke to a guy who was so aggressive and when I gave him the security code he wanted to know more about me, but I was equally uncomfortable to give my details to a member of the dreaded President Mugabe’s spy agency, so when I said I worked for The Zimbabwe Mail. Then he said….ooooh that MDC website!

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At first he requested meeting at Five Avenue Shopping centre car park and I rebuffed that suggestion for fear of falling into a trap. So, I decided to embark on an informal discussion as a tactic of getting somewhere.

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First we spoke about other things in general and ended up on Dynamos football club’s latest disappointing start to the season and I way led him into next week’s final between Manchester United and Barcelona.

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After some time he said, listen man, I want to go now, “Yes, chawurikuda kuziva ndechekuti mudhara anorwara, yes nekuti akura, but vanhu veMDC vanobva vati chance, dai akafa nhasi chaiye. Kana afa Zanu PF inongoramba ichitonga, he said in defiance.

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Kurwara kwake hachisi chinhu chitsva kwatiri, anogara achingodonha, but we know kuti he has the best doctors around him for 24 hours and the expensive machines in his house haisi yekutamba nayo. Anasekuru vedu vakura ngoma ndiyo! Vanongorwara nekuti makore ayenda!

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When I pushed him on the events on Tuesday, he said………eyeee zvakaitita my friend but it was over within short time and mangwana vakanga vatova right. Shefu munhu akachengetwa namwari, kana nguva yake yasvika yasvika.

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Munhu akasimba, kana vakapunzika sezvi mangwana vanogona kufuma varifit and even flying abroad. Majekiseni anovabatsira.

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He then went on to say some sensitive stuff about the President’s health. He also talked about the n’angas (witch doctors) visiting the place and the accusations and counter accusations within the Mugabe clan, with some groups accused of bewitching others and accusations of zvikwambo flying in between.

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Iwe neni ngatimunamatire kuti ararame nukusingaperi, he said before he switched his mobile in a friendly tone.

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This morning the story about Mugabe’s Tuesday evening health scare was also corroborated by a member of the Presidential Guard, an army battalion in charge of the security of the Presidency and State VIPs.

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He said he witnessed the frantic movements between the Guest House where the medical team lives and the President’s mansion and he also witnessed the arrival of Presidential Affairs Minister Didymus Mutasa and his wife Gertrude, but he could not give details of the events because he and other solders remained on sentry, patrolling the grounds of the property.

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Mugabe is seen to be increasingly frail and at a recent regional summit he was transported around the convention center in an electric golf cart. Visitors to his offices have also reported him suffering from fatigue. 

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Interviewed also by Southern Times, a regional weekly that is under the Herald stable and distributed by loyalists, Mugabe said his wife was in China studying for a degree in language and cultural studies. He said doctors there told her to stop fitness exercises. ”It is not an ailment. It is a physical dislocation,” he said in excerpts of the interview Thursday. The full version is expected to be published Friday.

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He told the newspaper he did not use gym equipment but used common exercises he began in a colonial-era jail cell. ”I fall sick if I don’t exercise. For now I am as good as my age says I must be,” he said, adding that he also takes a calcium supplement to help strengthen his bones. ”I am not old. I am 87 but my body says the counting doesn’t end at 87, at least you must get to 100,” he told the newspaper. 

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Mugabe’s office has denied he is suffering from prostate cancer treated in Singapore and suggested his five trips there since December were to meet with his wife and daughter Bona, 21, who is studying in Hong Kong. 

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Mugabe is currently attending a regional summit in the Namibian capital of Windhoek but discussions on Zimbabwe have been postponed, possibly to June 11 and 12 on the sidelines of an African economic summit in South Africa.

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South African President Jacob Zuma, the region’s chief mediator on Zimbabwe, is not expected in Windhoek.

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At the last regional summit in Zambia in March, Mugabe and his party received a stern rebuke over the slow pace of reforms in Zimbabwe and continuing political violence. 

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Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, has repeatedly said despite his age, he is fit to govern. He has called for elections this year, but regional mediators say that would be too early for free and fair polling.

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