ZIMBABWE – President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman has finally responded to reports that claimed the 91-year-old Zanu PF leader had collapsed and died while in the Far East where he is on his annual leave.
Speaking to the state media, George Charamba who is also Permanent Secretary in the Information Ministry, said the reports were false.
The UK based ZimEye website ran the headline: “Rumour rips CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) that Mugabe has collapsed”. Charamba however said the story had become a usual chorus every January whenever Mugabe is on his annual leave.
“You can doubt that there can be a New Year, but you cannot doubt that there will be a story on the President’s alleged death every January,” he said.
“This is the way the website seeks to improve its hits in order to get dirty money from Google. There is a financial incentive to the grim lie.
“Government is exploring mechanisms for dealing with such extra territorial mischief. These websites ride on carriers, don’t they?” Charamba added.
Online media reports yesterday claimed that a South African radio station also picked up the story and ran it before retracting it and apologising.
Reports about the declining health of Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980, are relatively common and Charamba normally declines to give an official response.
Mugabe likes to describe himself as “fit as a fiddle” but has shown signs of his advancing age in the last few years. He was caught on camera in 2015 tripping and falling down a short flight of stairs at Harare airport.