|By Thelma Chikwanha,|
|HARARE – Speculation around President Robert Mugabe ’s health reached fever pitch yesterday after the frail 87-year-old leader visited the Medical Chambers in the Avenues area of Harare.
Business around the medical facility came to a halt when Mugabe’s long motorcade — comprising overzealous security outriders, top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz vehicles, his limousine and medical team blocked the entrance to the upmarket clinic. This is not the first time that the Zanu PF leader has visited the facility in the recent past.Medical Chambers, which houses specialists such as neuro-surgeons, cardiologists, orthopaedic surgeons, urologists, psychiatrists and other internal medicine specialists, does not admit patients and deals with emergency specialist diagnosis and treatment.”We managed to sneak as far as the pharmacy on the ground floor where soldiers and plain clothes security details manning the entrance tried to blocked our news crew”, said the DN journalistWorkers at Medical Chambers who spoke to the Daily News later in the day said it was difficult to tell which doctors Mugabe had visited as the facility had been “flooded” with security officials.
“Mugabe was definitely here although we don’t really know where exactly he went because people were not being allowed to move from one floor to another. This place is for specialist doctors where they conduct various tests and give treatment. But it is difficult to tell what exactly the problem with the president is because everyone is afraid of saying anything,” said a worker, who spoke after Mugabe left the clinic.
Mugabe spent more than an hour at the chambers before his huge entourage made its way out.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba was not available for comment yesterday evening as his mobile was not reachable.
It is no longer a secret that Mugabe has not been feeling well for some time now, with medical experts saying people of his age are expected to suffer a number of ailments, including prostate cancer, associated with that age group.
At the Sadc troika on politics, defence and security meeting in Livingstone in March, Mugabe had to be moved around in a golf cart because he was having difficulty walking.
The frail-looking Mugabe has made at least five trips to the Far East for medical treatment since the beginning of the year, although he claimed in an interview with state-owned media that he was fit enough to reach 100 years.
Mugabe’s aides have vigorously denied that the 87-year-old has prostate cancer, claiming instead that he has problems with his eyes.
But medical experts say that while it may be true that he has problematic cataracts, this would not require visits overseas — hence the more likely scenario that it was something more serious such as prostate cancer — a disease which is common among people of his age.
A medical expert who spoke to the Daily News last night also said there were, in some instances, links between prostate cancer and cataracts.
“Apparently, men who took tamsulosin hydrochloride, which treats urinary retention, were at high risk of developing complications after cataract surgery.
Mugabe’s illness is causing a lot of division within Zanu PF with several party heavy weights jostling to succeed him.
“Even the military has waded into the issue, with one service chief apparently also keen to take over power from the octogenarian who has avoided either naming or grooming — which has left his party deeply divided.
Constitutionally, if the president is incapacitated the last acting vice president will take over the reins until elections can be held within three months.
Sadc leaders have also voiced concern about whether Mugabe was still fit to rule given his advanced age and failing health, and have urged him to step down.
Regional leaders, human rights organisations and the MDC have all raised concerns that the military, and not Mugabe are in charge of the country.
Mugabe’s wife, Grace is also sick as exclusively revealed by the Daily News in March.
University of Zimbabwe Political Science lecturer John Makumbe recently said Zimbabweans deserved to know if the president was ill or not because a significant amount of money had been spent on the president’s trips while civil servants were denied salary increments.
Makumbe said releasing information on the state of the president’s health was a matter of transparent governance where people had the right to know about the health of the president and his wife.
“If he was not ill why would he go to Livingstone with six medical doctors?
“We think the smart thing to do is to step down. Nobody will chase him away.
“To assume that at 87 he still has what he had at 37 is guess-work, ” Makumbe said.
The outspoken university lecturer also urged Mugabe to step down while Morgan Tsvangirai was still at the helm of MDC.
“It’s time for him to take a rest, with a person like Tsvangirai still in charge of the MDC.
“He should take advantage of that and leave because he will not take him to the Hague. Other guys will parade him along First Street,” Makumbe said.