ZIMBABWE – A Zimbabwean government spokesman says President Robert Mugabe is in good health, dismissing an online report that he suffered a heart attack.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba told reporters Thursday that the report by the website ZimEye was false. 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.”
Rumors about Mugabe’s health are common. He turns 92 next month and takes a long vacation abroad each January. This is the first time this year the government has chosen to respond to rumors.
Charamba complained about the recurring rumor that Mugabe has died, saying “You cannot doubt that there will be a story on the president’s alleged death every January.”
Mugabe downplays concerns about his health. But the president, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, has shown signs of age. Last year, he was caught on camera tripping and falling down a flight of stairs at Harare airport.
In September, he read a speech to parliament, apparently unaware he had delivered the same address a month earlier.
Mugabe’s long tenure and advanced age have led to concerns about what will happen to the presidency after his death.
Senior Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is seen as first in line to succeed him, but the president’s wife, Grace Mugabe, has been making political advances of her own. She is currently the head of the women’s league in the ruling ZANU-PF party.