Bingu and Mugabe: Two of a kind

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe returned home from Singapore today, appearing fit and defying reports that he was seriously ill.

The 88-year-old leader bounded down the stairs of a chartered plane, accompanied by his wife and was met at Harare’s main airport by senior government officials, including his potential successor, vice president Joice Mujuru.

Mr Mugabe did not speak to reporters and was taken away in his official presidential motorcade.Mugabe is one of Africa’s longest serving leaders and has ruled the former British colony in southern Africa since 1980. He is sharing power with political rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a fragile coalition formed three years ago.

Earlier this week, Zimbabwean officials denied reports Mugabe was seriously ill in Singapore, saying he is well and on holiday with his family.

Chief spokesman for Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party Rugare Gumbo told state television the reports were “lies meant to destabilise Zimbabwe”.

“Some sick and malicious people are spreading false stories about him being seriously ill while others are saying he is dead or dying out there,” one Zanu-PF official said.

Mugabe has made frequent visits to Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, where medical care is far better than in his impoverished state. The 88-year-old president has been the subject of several health scares in recent years, with some reports saying he has prostate cancer, which he denies.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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