PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday almost fell over backwards as he tried to climb onto a one-step dais, with Indian Premier Narendra Modi and some aides rushing to his rescue in New Delhi.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
It would have been the second time 91-year-old Mugabe would have fallen in public after his tumble at Harare International Airport early this year.
A video recording on Indian channel India Newzstreet, which filmed the near fall, showed Mugabe being helped by Modi both on and off the stage.
“On Thursday, it was a touching moment to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi extending a hand to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe who lost his balance and stumbled while walking up the podium to greet Prime Minister Modi,” a voice over on the video says.
Modi and other security aides were captured on camera rushing to the aid of the Zimbabwean leader.
In the news-clip of the event, Mugabe stumbled two steps backwards, tried again to make his way onto the seemingly slightly raised dais before an Indian official and one of the Zanu PF leader’s aides came to his rescue.
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Modi then walked towards Mugabe, stretched his hand and helped him onto the stage.
The Indian official who appeared in the video seemed to be pushing Mugabe by the small of the back before other aides rushed to the scene to help him up.
Modi, an indian official and one of Mugabe’s aides had to help Mugabe off the stage after the short photo opportunity. Mugabe is in New Delhi for the India-Africa Summit aimed at facilitating trade co-operation between Africa and one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
Earlier, Indian Press had published pictures showing a seemingly “lost” Mugabe being directed by Modi on where to stand for another photo opportunity after meeting the Indian leader.
Pictures also emerged of all African leaders wearing Indian traditional garb, besides Mugabe who stood out for sticking to his grey suit.
Reports from India indicate that the Asian country asked for sizes of all the leaders attending the summit so they could be dressed in the Indian clothing, a request it seems Zimbabwe ignored.
While officials insist that Mugabe is “as fit as a fiddle”, he has had a few mishaps in the past 12 months, the nadir being his fall at the airport in February.
Last month, Mugabe shocked the world after he read the wrong speech while officially opening the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament.
Instead of laying down the legislative agenda, Mugabe repeated his State of the Nation Address he had presented to Parliament at the end of August.
In February this year, following his appointment as AU chairperson, Mugabe arrived in Harare and addressed cheering hundreds of supporters at Harare International Airport.
But as he made his way to his waiting motorcade, he slipped and fell with his spin doctors including then Information minister Jonathan Moyo claiming “the President had broken the fall”.
Over 20 officers from his close security team were reportedly sacked as a result after an angry First Lady Grace Mugabe demanded an inquiry.
In what is increasingly his annus horribilis Mugabe was accosted by a Nigerian journalist, who demanded to know why he was not stepping down after ruling the country since Independence 35 years ago.
Mugabe has consistently declared he “cannot leave the party when it still needs me”.
Some opposition groups have demanded that Mugabe steps down on account of his age.
“I am here for as long as I am still sane, with good memory and willpower. I thank God for giving me extra strength. I still have a bright mind; I still have will. I know our history more than you do. I know the wishes of those heroes and those who lie elsewhere more than you do. I know the wishes of the chiefs, dead and alive,” Mugabe declared at the Zanu PF congress in December 2014.