Illness catches up to Zimbabwe's aging leader

Fungai Maboreke | 11/16/2011, 11:51 p.m.
Illness catches up to Zimbabwe's aging leader

Nov. 15 (GIN) - Frequent trips abroad for treatment of prostate disease are fuelling speculation that President Robert Mugabe may not survive his current condition.

Party officials, contemplating Mr. Mugabe's deteriorating health, have been overheard wishing for a replacement who is younger and fresher. Last week he was rushed to Singapore for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife Grace. It was his ninth visit to that Asian country this year.

"In 2012 Mugabe will be 88... His age and his face are an election issue. He is no longer appealing to the people and his age is not an age where people can invest their future in an 88 year old, who is always in and out of hospital," said former news editor Pedzisai Ruhanya interviewed by SW Radio Africa.

According to local area news reports, President Mugabe has spent $20 million for doctor visits to Singapore just this year alone.

Meanwhile, American investors are sizing up business opportunities in this conflicted country. In a recent visit to Victoria Falls, Chicago developer and real estate mogul, Elzie Higgenbottom, reportedly scoped out venues for a major hotel, convention center and casino. Also on the trip was retired congressman Mel Reynolds whose business interests, he said, include manufacturing medical gloves.

Reynolds said to a local editor: "As a former elected official and now as a businessman my personal view is that President Mugabe is one of the last Lions of Africa that brought freedom to the people of this Great Continent. .. Africans can debate all day as to how a country should or must be run, but it should be impossible to forget those who made it possible to be able to debate as a free people."