President Robert Mugabe is said to have had a minor medical procedure in Malaysia but is expected home sometime next week, impeccable sources said on Wednesday.
There has been speculation over the President’s health especially after reports emerged that he was receiving treatment outside the country.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba on Monday poured cold water on the reports, insisting the President was on annual leave.
On Wednesday, strenuous efforts to contact Charamba for a comment were fruitless as his mobile phone was being answered by his secretary who said he was attending a day-long meeting. In the evening however his phone went unanswered.
Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu was not helpful either, as he said he does not grant interviews over the phone and requested questions in writing.
But, Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo confirmed President Mugabe would be coming home soon although he could not give a date.
“I am not sure when he is coming but it will definitely be before the end of the month,” he said.
Gumbo however denied the President had undergone medical treatment and said this was “just speculation which people are entitled to”.
However sources said the President had indeed undergone a “medical procedure”.
They however said it was minor and that he should be back in the country and at work soon. The sources said he could return as early as Sunday.
A Daily Telegraph story, which was widely circulated by the international media on Monday, alleged President Mugabe was in hospital in Malaysia after undergoing the unspecified “medical procedure”.
Charamba however denied the claims saying: “You seem to know more about the President than I do. As far as I am concerned, the President is on his annual leave and we made this public. He will be back soon.”
President Mugabe normally takes annual leave from December to January.
John Nkomo, who has been the acting Head of State, has since reverted back to his position of Vice-President while his counterpart Joice Mujuru is now the Acting President until the return of the President.
This has heightened speculation over the health of the President, as each of the Vice-Presidents has in the past been appointed Acting President pending the return of the President.
However, this time the Vice-Presidents have rotated acting while the President was still out of the country.
Nkomo was the Acting President from the time the President started his annual leave until January 15.
Announcing the appointment of Vice-President Mujuru as Acting President on Wednesday, Charamba said:
“Please be advised that as of January 16, 2011, Honourable Vice-President JTR Mujuru is the Acting President of Zimbabwe until His Excellency President RG Mugabe who is on vacation comes back into office.”
Malaysian Home Affairs minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has declined to confirm or deny the reports.
“I cannot confirm that and I won’t (say) one way or the other,” the minister was quoted as saying in The Malaysian Insider newspaper on Monday.
Speculation over the President’s health has been going on for some time.
In September last year, President Mugabe publicly denied persistent rumours over his health.
“I don’t know how many times I die, but nobody has ever talked about my resurrection,” the President said
at a meeting with Zimbabwean editors at State House.
“I suppose they don’t want to, because it would mean they would mention my resurrection several times and that would be quite divine an achievement for an individual who is not divine,” President Mugabe said.
“Jesus died once, and was resurrected only once, and poor (President) Mugabe several times. My time will come, but for now, no.”