Zimbabwe on Tuesday dismissed reports that President Robert Mugabe was battling for life in aSingapore hospital as “a lot of hogwash”, after his absence forced cabinet to postpone this week’s meeting.
“It’s a lot of hogwash,” Information Minister Webster Shamu told AFP. “This is not the first time we have heard these rumours. If anything like that had happened, we would have issued a statement.”
He would not disclose the whereabouts of Mugabe, 88, who was reported by state media to have left for Singapore on a private visit more than a week ago to arrange post-graduate studies for his daughter Bona.
Shamu’s statement came on the back of a report in the Zimbabwe Mail news website that Mugabe, in power since 1980, was seriously ill and had agreed to hand over power to defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
A government source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mugabe was well and denied the report.
“He is on a private visit in Singapore,” the source said.
“He is not in and was not taken to any hospital. He is well and should be back later today or tomorrow which is why cabinet was pushed to Thursday. The story from the Zimbabwe Mail is a complete fabrication.”
Mugabe last seen in public when he handed computers to a government primary school nearly two weeks ago.
But he issued a condolence message following the death of Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika last week and another one congratulating wa Mutharika’s successor Joyce Banda on assuming her new post.
Mugabe’s health has been subject of speculation in recent years.
Last year the whistleblower website WikiLeaks released a cable in which central bank governor told a US ambassador in 2008 that Mugabe was diagnosed with prostate cancer and doctors had given him three years to live.