Vice-President John Nkomo was on Sunday rushed to South Africa for medical treatment after his health deteriorated, a day after appearing in public at the burial of Retired General Solomon Mujuru at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare.
In South Africa, the Vice-President joins Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Herbert Murerwa, who is reportedly suffering from cancer of the colon and has been admitted at a hospital there for almost a month.
At the national shrine, Nkomo appeared tired, moved slowly and was assisted by two aides as he made his way to the VIP tent clutching a cane. He struggled to get to Mujuru’s grave despite walking with the aid of the cane and it took him much effort to lay a wreath.
His condition reportedly deteriorated soon after and he was rushed to South Africa. His state could not be immediately established as of yesterday.
But, Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu confirmed Nkomo was in South Africa for medical attention, although he said this was routine. “He has gone for his usual check-up,” Shamu told NewsDay yesterday.
“There is nothing unusual. He is fine. Isn’t that you saw him at Heroes’ Acre? He attended the burial of General Mujuru and thereafter he went for his check-up in South Africa.”
President Robert Mugabe was last week forced to appoint a grieving Joice Mujuru as Acting President when he went to Angola for the Sadc summit.
Senior Zanu PF officials also confirmed Nkomo’s deteriorating health yesterday.
“The VP has not been feeling well for quite some time and that is not news. I am not aware if he has gone to South Africa or not. What I know is that he is not feeling well,” said Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo.
Zanu secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said: “He has not been feeling well for some time and he was not coming to work. Even today (yesterday), he was not in the Cabinet meeting. But, I do not know why and where he is now, whether he went to South Africa or not.”
Gumbo also confirmed Murerwa was seriously ill and admitted at a private hospital in South Africa. “The last I heard was that he was ill,” Gumbo said. “He had an operation.” According to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, President Mugabe had the option to appoint a senior minister as Acting President during his absence in the absence of both Vice-Presidents. Section 31 (1)(c) says a minister may be appointed: “During the absence or incapacity of the Vice-President or both Vice-Presidents, as the case may be, by such minister as may be designated for such an eventuality — (i) by the President or (ii) by the Cabinet, where no minister has been designated by the President in terms of sub-paragraph (i).”