ZIMBABWE – WASHINGTON DC—For the first time since independence in 1980 President Robert Mugabe this weekend gave the shortest speech at the burial of national hero, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.
The speech was about 15 minutes long. Pictures of the event captured by various media organizations show Mr. Mugabe tightly gripping his wife, Grace, for physical support as he walked to the podium.
The president gave a subdued speech that was devoid of his usual attack on the West and his political opponents and stuck to the issue at hand – the burial of his erstwhile comrade.
He was quoted as saying, “These open prisons were meant to break the back of the nationalist movement. It was not easy to be a widowed wife of a man who lived in the confines of prison-President Mugabe.”
This, coupled with the gaffe in which he read a speech in parliament that he had already read weeks ago, has fueled speculation about the 91-year-old president’s failing health.
The opposition has said it is encouraging the nonagenarian leader to quit on health grounds but Zanu PF has scoffed at the suggestions insisting that he is going to represent the party in the 2018 presidential elections when he will be 94.
Studio 7 spoke to 85-year-old former educationist and writer, Isaac Mpofu, who said at 91 Mr. Mugabe must retire.
“In some countries they have leaders who are president for life but that is not a good thing,” said Mpofu.