PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s health has once again come under the spotlight after he apparently struggled to use his right eye which seemed to be nearly shut on Friday.
While Mugabe appeared to be highly alert and jocular, he looked like he was experiencing difficulties with his right eye while delivering his speech during national commemorations to mark Zimbabwe’s 34th Independence Day at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
Throughout his one-and-half-hour-long speech, Mugabe seemed uneasy with his right eye and was forced to remove his spectacles at least three times. He then spoke for a long time without glasses.
Mugabe reportedly had cataract surgery in Singapore in January 2011 and has made several other trips to the Asian country thereafter for check-ups.
In November last year, Mugabe flew to Singapore after another visit in June, sparking speculation about his health.
Government officials said Mugabe had gone for a “routine eye check”.
This followed several visits in 2011 and succeeding years reportedly for the same eye problem.
When he flew again to Singapore on the eve of his 90th birthday celebrations this year, his spokesperson George Charamba revealed that he had gone for check-ups.
“He is going for the second eye procedure, the right eye was operated on, so he is now going for the second operation,” Charamba was quoted as saying.
“This is a routine check-up, a routine cataract operation for his left eye whose date was set down more than a year ago and the president has gone to fulfill that appointment.”
But it was the same right eye that seemed to have given Mugabe problems on Friday.
It appeared as if the eye was struggling to blink while at times it was not opening at all.
Mugabe’s health concerns had been a subject of speculation each time he flew out of the country for health check-ups. His critics claimed he was visiting the Asian country for prostate cancer treatment.
The 90-year-old Zanu PF leader has on several occasions been rumoured, particularly by the Western media, to be dead while in Singapore or Malaysia for holidays or medical check-ups. But Mugabe always laughs off such rumours declaring himself “as fit as a fiddle.”
The latest was in January when Mugabe ended his death rumours after he appeared for the burial of his sister, Bridgette, who died after spending over three years in a coma.
While Mugabe is claiming a near clean bill of health, the condition of his right eye has became the subject of discussion, including on social media networks. Some
people were questioning whether Mugabe’s eye problems were getting worse with age.
Charamba was not taking calls yesterday to shed light on Mugabe’s seemingly troublesome eye.
Sister paper The Standard was, howewer, told yesterday that Mugabe’s eye troubles may be linked to glaucoma, a condition that causes damage to one’s eyesight and which worsens with advanced age.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe took to the social media posting pictures of Mugabe while delivering his speech on Friday.
Some were insinuating that he was fast turning blind, while others said Zimbabwe could be a laughing stock of the world for voting an old and ailing president into power.
Even within Zanu PF, speculation about his health and advanced age has been a cause of factional infighting.
Two factions, one reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and another one linked to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are said to be jostling to succeed Mugabe in power since independence in 1980.
Mujuru and Mnangagwa have repeatedly denied leading factions or habouring presidential ambitions.