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Ex-President Robert Mugabe: From robust leader to frail old man :: Kenya

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Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

In summary

  • Ex-president led Zimbabwe between 1980 and 2017
  • At 94, the former strongman cannot even walk and is currently in Singapore for treatment for an undisclosed ailment

“I have died many times – that’s where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once,” the ever egoistical former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe claimed in a radio interview in 2012, ahead of his 88th birthday.

Mugabe also described himself as being “fit as a fiddle”. Two years later, during his 90th birthday, Mugabe claimed he was feeling “youthful and energetic as a boy of nine”. Both portrayals are now inapplicable given his current state as a sickly 94-year-old who cannot even walk.

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“He is now old. Of course, he now is unable to walk but whatever he asks for we will provide,” Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa told crowds during a weekend rally in Mugabe’s home area, according to AFP.

Mnangagwa also revealed that Mugabe has been receiving treatment at a facility in Singapore for two months now, adding that the former president would return home on November 30.

He said Mugabe was not well enough to travel back on the earlier scheduled date of October 15.

Save for the last years of his rule, Mugabe enjoyed relatively good health, something he constantly bragged about.

Mugabe often attributed his good health to his daily regimen of morning exercise, unrefined traditional food such as the Zimbabwean staple sadza and avoidance of toxic habits like smoking.

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But as he progressed towards his 90s, his health began to fail, gradually but significantly. The former president would often be spotted sleeping at public events and appearing unsteady while walking, even infamously losing balance and falling while descending steps in Harare.

While the illness Mugabe is being treated for in Singapore has not been announced, in recent years he has had numerous struggles with cataracts and high blood pressure.

Sleeping in public, his spokesperson, George Charamaba said, is one of the effects of cataracts. He said Mugabe could not handle bright light and occasionally needed to “rest his eyes”.

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In early 2011, Mugabe had eye surgery in Singapore, with a privately-owned Zimbabwean newspaper claiming he visited Singapore six more times after the surgery in that year alone.

In 2014, he was pictured with his wife, Grace, at the Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore. Last year, before being ousted from power, he had visited Singapore at least twice, in March and July, for a routine check-up. He was back in December after his forceful removal from power.

In 2011, US diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks alleged Mugabe had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and that the cancer was slowly killing him.

According to the tapes, Mugabe was going to die of cancer by 2013, allegations he not only denied but also defied. Mugabe has also denied rumours that he had suffered a stroke.

In July, international media claimed Mugabe remained seated during an entire press address, only standing after the media left.

On July 30, the father of four appeared to be walking slowly and weakly as he voted in the first elections after his ouster.  

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