Nkomo son refutes Mugabe claims

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The late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s son, Sibangilizwe, yesterday dismissed claims by President Robert Mugabe that the veteran nationalist “ate too much meat” and suffered from gout.

Mugabe made the claims in one of his many interviews with the State media ahead of his 88th birthday on Tuesday.

Mugabe said he had lived long because he was particular about his diet. “We loved eating meat dishes when we were freedom fighters,” he said in the interview broadcast in Shona and English.

“All those we were dining with loved meat and as for Joshua Nkomo, he enjoyed more than others.

“If we were given a chicken, he used to eat all of it, but he ended suffering from gout, then the doctor said no . . . ah.

“(The late Vice-President Simon Muzenda) had gout as well as (Joseph) Msika (his co-Vice-President).”

Nkomo died of suspected prostate cancer in 1999 followed by Muzenda in 2003 and Msika in 2009. Mugabe said the former PF Zapu leader loved meat the most to an extent that when they were given chicken, Nkomo would grab the whole dish.

But Sibangilizwe dismissed the assertions, saying his father preferred traditional food instead. “Our father never at one moment suffered from gout,” he told NewsDay yesterday.

“He was a picky eater who loved mostly traditional food like peanut butter mixed with dried beef, ulude and sour milk.

“He never loved food and would not even finish a piece of quarter chicken. He had a bulky body, but it was not as a result of food.

“Besides traditional food, he loved cakes, he did not like chicken that much,” Sibangilizwe said.

“I think the President was just emphasising on the advice he was giving to Tazzen (Mandizvidza, ZBC general manager news and current affairs who interviewed Mugabe on TV) and the young on the importance of exercise.”

Mugabe, who does not drink or smoke, said he kept healthy by exercising regularly.

“So God looks after us, but there is a portion we must play. You must eat well, you take some vegetables, don’t overeat beef, it’s dangerous, eventually you will have gout,” he said.

Nkomo was one of the first nationalist leaders in the then Rhodesia and was affectionately known as Father Zimbabwe.