PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday missed a step and tumbled down the podium shortly after addressing hundreds of Zanu PF supporters at Harare International Airport, sending his security team and Cabinet ministers into panic.
Mugabe, who arrived from the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after midday to a rapturous welcome from hundreds of party supporters following his appointment as AU chairman, was walking down the stairs of the podium to greet service chiefs and other government ministers when he missed a step and tumbled to the
The Zanu PF strongman who turns 91 on February 21, was swiftly helped to get up to his feet by Cabinent ministers and service chiefs as security officers rushed to cover him from the journalists’ prying eyes and cameras. After regaining his composure, he went on to greet the welcoming officials before he was driven
off in his Presidential motorcade.
Some journalists who had captured the drama on camera were forced to delete the pictures of the falling Mugabe by State security agents.
The Zanu PF leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe since Independence in 1980, has over the last few years made several trips to the Far East reportedly for routine medical check-ups and eye operations.
Under normal circumstances, Mugabe usually travels in the company of his wife First Lady Grace Mugabe, who unfailingly holds him by his hand to climb up and down the stairs. But yesterday, he was exposed as Grace is still in the Far East where she is recuperating from an appendicitis operation she underwent two weeks ago while on holiday.
In the absence of Grace, former Vice-President Joice Mujuru usually came in handy and guided him up and down the delicate stairs.
Before the fall, Mugabe had told the gathering of how he confronted and chastised Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for attending the International Criminal Court trial in The Hague, saying the move was a betrayal of Kenya’s late founder Jomo Kenyatta’s principles.
“We said we don’t want to hear that. If you have a case, it must be heard in Africa. I was talking to Kenyatta’s son and said why did you go there? I warned him not to do that again, you embarrass your (late) father,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe also attacked former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa for his all-out verbal attacks on the party’s leadership and threats to legally challenge the legitimacy of its December congress.
Mugabe said his appointment as AU chair was a victory for all Zimbabwean political parties.
“Within our party, there were fools who emerged and others just talk — it’s normal to have such people in a country,” he said in apparent reference to Mutasa.
He said there was no mention of Mutasa in Ethiopia despite him writing letters to the AU and Sadc for his concerns to be discussed at that level.
“We didn’t hear anything about him. It’s just rubbish. Lack of understanding that if it gets to this, what do I do? If you lose, you work hard so that tomorrow you win, not to say why did I lose? You lost because of your deeds,” he said.
Earlier, Mugabe had pleaded with journalists to report on development and appreciate when good things happen instead of concentrating on negatives issues only.
“Journalists should not just focus on negative stories only or to look for things that are not there. We want the truth so that we teach our people on the truth. We appeal to journalists who have knowledge of the future and our policies in all countries, that’s what we want. They should also focus on the progress,” Mugabe said.