By Amelia Johnson|
Fresh panic about president Robert Mugabe’s failing health has gripped Zimbabwe after he did not return to work as scheduled last week, it emerged.
The government has not given any official information on what was keeping Mugabe in Singapore, where he went on holiday and to receive medical treatment on December 14 2014.
Mugabe’s secretary Misheck Sibanda announced in December that the dictator would be back in office on January 15.
Analysts said Mugabe must come back to deal with the budgeoning crisis he created when he fired his deputy Joice Mujuru and 16 ministers. The sacked ministers, including de facto head of the CIO Didymus Mutasa, have threatened legal action to reclaim their positions.
Activists and civil servants threatening strikes want him to come and face them instead of “running away”.
“Yes, he must come back, Robert Mugabe,” said protest group Occupy Africa Unity Square leader Itayi Dzamara. “We want our country back and we are ready to reclaim it.”
The nearly 91 year-old Mugabe, infamous for sleeping through important meetings, is expected to be made AU chairman on January 31 during a ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In Mugabe’s absence, Zimbabwe has faced severe crises, including floods and road accidents. The state failed to assist victims with rescue and emmergency aid after Mugabe barred acting president Emmerson Mnangagwa from deploying air force helicopters to disaster areas. Scores of people died due to government incompetence.
Mugabe also fired 16 ministers in absentia.
Mugabe’s failing health is also a concern to SADC, where he is expected to attend a security meeting this January to address the crisis in Lesotho following a coup attempt there.
Mugabe insists that no cabinet or politburo meeting can be held in his absence, fearing a vote of no confidence.
The MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has also called for anti-government protests after announcing a boycott of upcoming by-elections citing Mugabe’s repression.
“Zimbabwe is on autopilot, headed into the sea,” said political analyst Chris Mitchell. “Unfortunately, noone is allowed to eject except Mugabe who has stolen billions which he goes to spend in Singapore and other places, away from his angry people. Can you imagine a president spending a whole month in another country and then extending the holiday without telling the nation? This is political madness, Mugabe-style and no one, not even parliament is challenging him about it.”
Mugabe suffers from prostate cancer, senility and dementia but has refused to give up power. He has hatched a secret plan to transfer power to his wife Grace Mugabe, who joined politics in July 2014.
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