ZIMBABWE – President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman has dismissed his stumble in India as a very minor incident as opposition parties urge the veteran leader to resign.
Mugabe turns 92 next February but refuses to retire with supporters urging him to seek another five year term in 2018 when he will be 94.
But recent public mishaps have suggested that while the mind wills, the veteran leader’s body is now struggling to keep up.
Despite ditching heeled shoes for flat-soled moccasins, Mugabe’s legs seem to be giving him problems “ his ankles have appeared swollen in some images.
He nearly collapsed in heap while negotiating a step as he walked to great Indian premier Narendra Modi in Delhi Wednesday.
The alert Indian premier and some aides rushed to support Mugabe, helping break the fall.
Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, was dismissive of the incident.
It is a very minor incident in a big heroic act and only fault finders will spend a second on it, Charamba told state media from Delhi where the Zimbabwean leader is attending the India-Africa summit.
Charamba added: President Mugabe is well and has accomplished his mission.
He is due in the country at the weekend.
Charamba said Mugabe “ who is also African Union chairman – actively participated in summit events and also held meetings with several other leaders.
The Delhi incident comes after Mugabe could be seen gingerly walking the couple of metres from his chair to address the UN general assembly in New York last month.
Before travelling to New York, the Zanu PF leader also delivered the wrong speech to Parliament; re-reading, apparently without realising it, a text he had presented to the legislature a few weeks earlier.
In February, he missed a step and fell to the ground after addressing supporters at the Harare International Airport.
Opposition MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu said Mugabe should now retire.
We reiterate our call that the President should proceed to step down because his is now too old to effectively manage the rigours of Presidential duties and assignments, he said.