As Zimbabwe faces a crucial general election on July 31, presidential candidates are traversing the country addressing rallies in a bid to gain the much needed votes.
Report by Online Reporter
The two front runners, President Robert Mugabe (89) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (61) also have government responsibilities that need to be taken care of.
This period is therefore one of their toughest as they have to juggle many balls.
Tsvangirai, who is addressing at least two rallies a day, is also lobbying for the sanitisation of the poll process amid reports of irregularities and ill-preparedness on the part of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) tasked to conduct the country’s elections.
But it is hard to imagine how at 89, Mugabe is coping with strain of running government, spearheading a decisive campaign and containing reported party factional fights.
There has been wide speculation about Mugabe’s declining health.
In 2011, leaked US diplomatic cables alleged that the veteran ruler had prostate cancer and was expected to die within two years.
The information was allegedly divulged to former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee by Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono during a private meeting in June 2008.
Since last year, Mugabe has made six trips to Singapore for what his officials say are ‘routine medical check-ups.’
In April 2011 our sister paper, The Standard, reported that Mugabe had to move around in a golf cart during a summit of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) troika on peace and security.
With one bodyguard in front and one on the left, Mugabe, then 87, walked slowly to the dais where he was again assisted to climb up for the singing of the national anthems.
At campaign rallies where he is appealing to voters to give him another five year term, Mugabe has broken his tradition of walking around saluting supporters, choosing to use an open truck to go round the venue in what is seen as a sign the veteran ruler is slowing down.
His speech has also become slurred and incoherent as he reportedly, in some instances, forget names.
Listen to his address at the Zanu PF election manifesto launch
Last month Mugabe reportedly suffered a major embarrassment when he forgot to launch a National Youth Policy after delivering his speech.
The official launch of the youth policy was the reason why he had attended the event.
The frequent Singapore trips, coupled with the frail appearance continue to feed into the speculation around the president’s health.
But Mugabe has maintained in his public announcements that he is still fit to rule for yet another five years.
Recently Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai revealed that Mugabe wants to rest but has been forced to seek re-election by his lieutenants as his Zanu PF party continues to battle with factional fights and an unsolved succession issue.
NewsDay made a desktop examination into the health issues that can affect an average black 89 year old man and as shown in the diagram above, the strain put on Mugabe could have a serious effect on his health.