ZIMBABWE – Harare – President Robert Mugabe’s stumble in New Delhi this week, his second caught on camera this year, was “a very minor incident”, his spokesperson was quoted as saying on Saturday.
George Charamba told the Herald newspaper: “It’s a very minor incident in a big heroic act and only fault-finders will spend a second on it.
“President Mugabe is well and has accomplished his mission,” Charamba was quoted as saying.
In an incident that the Zimbabwe authorities are keen to downplay, Mugabe, 91, was filmed losing his footing as he walked up a dais at the India-Africa Forum Summit.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rushed to steady him, although state media in Zimbabwe insisted this was unnecessary as he remained upright.
In an identical piece published in the Herald and Chronicle newspapers, reporter Cletus Mushanawani said: “President Mugabe appeared to stumble slightly as he walked towards Prime Minister Modi who was welcoming him to the summit and did not require a helping hand as he remained steadfast on his feet.”
The Herald is loyal to Mugabe and his Zanu-PF government.
Government spin doctors tried to make light of the #MugabeFalls debacle at Harare International Airport in February, when Mugabe tripped on the red carpet as he returned from an AU summit. There were various claims then that there was a “bump” in the carpet and that the longtime president had “broken his fall” anyway.
But critics then – as now – saw the Zimbabwean leader’s unsteadiness as proof that he is becoming incapacitated and needs to retire. He has been in power in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
Readers of Saturday’s article have poured scorn on Charamba’s latest defence of the president.
“Why lie when all people the world over saw that he was helped so that he couldn’t fall? It is clear that he is old and really
tired,” one reader posted to the Chronicle’s page.
Wrote a reader who identified herself as Portia: “Sad because Charamba is making a mockery of [Mugabe] and he allows it. You can’t fool nature. It will always prove you wrong.”
But Caesar Zvayi, the editor of the Herald, tweeted: “Where others saw President Mugabe stumble, I saw a man who is almost 92
walking unaided, remarkably fit for his age. We all stumble in life.”