PRESIDENT ROBERT Mugabe yesterday touched down at Harare International Airport from his month-long holiday in the Far East minus his wife, First Lady Grace, whom he said remained behind as she was suffering from appendicitis.
Mugabe said the First Lady had been hospitalised for the condition all this time and, although she was discharged on Tuesday, she was still recuperating in the Far East.
He said Grace’s medical problem had been managed and she was now taking a rest after the operation.
“She did not know for a long time what the problem was. She is out of hospital now. She came out the day before yesterday [Tuesday] and she is resting,” Mugabe said, adding she was expected back in the country sometime mid-next month.
Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix, and common symptoms are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and decreased appetite.
Severe complications of a ruptured appendix include widespread painful inflammation of the inner lining of the abdominal wall and sepsis.
Although Mugabe seemed to be downplaying his wife’s illness, medical experts who spoke on condition of anonymity yesterday alluded that she very likely had cancer of the colon.
They said during her public rallies last year, she showed the signs and symptoms – including hair loss and dry skin — consistent with someone on chemotherapy.
Mugabe was met by thousands of Zanu PF supporters who waved placards denouncing ex-party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa for allegedly plotting to topple the veteran party leader, who turns 91 next month.
Addressing party members, Mugabe described Mutasa as “a stray braying ass”.
“I want to say we took a long time out of the country. We did not spend Christmas in the country because Amai ‘Stop it’ had a problem and we said we needed to go for check-ups. It is the time we usually go for check-ups,” Mugabe said.
“I told her that she should have just said ‘Stop it’ to the condition.”
The President was making reference to Grace’s popular chant “Stop it” during her campaign rallies last year when she publicly denounced former Vice-President Joice Mujuru for allegedly plotting his ouster.
He said while he was on holiday, he used to receive daily briefings on what was happening back home including on issues relating to Mutasa’s damning statement.
“I don’t know what got into this one you call Gamatox. We gave him a top job even in government where he was Minister in the President’s Office and also was responsible for planning the [Zanu PF] congress only to run away towards congress and say he was sick and was in South Africa,” Mugabe said.
“Why did he run away? He wrote to [South African President Jacob] Zuma about Zanu PF — where does Zuma come in? Those we instructed to stop it, are puppets. She [Grace] said the Women’s League should move forward. She is coming mid-February.”
Mugabe said Mutasa was behaving like a “stray ass” by failing to accept that other countries had nothing to do with Zanu PF politics.
“In the papers, he says ‘we’. Who was he referring to? A stupid fool cannot be corrected. There is nothing you can do to a stray braying ass. We will never be stopped by Gamatox. We will have no time for individuals. No little brain, disorganised, mentally deranged if not close to being insane,” Mugabe said.
He said he was aware of some within Zanu PF who were against the elevation of Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, but urged party supporters to rally behind his two lieutenants.
“I want to say congratulations to our VPs Mnangagwa and Mphoko. I know they are some who don’t like them, but if the party likes them, that’s it. Cde Mnangagwa is no longer a Midlands leader only, he is a national leader. Mphoko is not a leader for Matabeleland, he is a national leader,” he said.
Turning to the restive civil servants, Mugabe pleaded with them to remain calm as government was aware of their poor working conditions.
“We will pay you. Understand us, this is not the time. This is the time to unite. I know you have worked hard and we are concerned,” he said.
“To our neighbours, we want to say the congress we had in December was a Zanu PF congress. Sadc, Comesa and African Union are organisations not for individuals, but for countries and nations. It’s like the United Nations, that’s why it is the UN. In our country, we have a people’s party and Zanu PF issues are dealt within Zanu PF.”