Mugabe Health, More Facts Emerging

Jacob Zuma, the South African president, landed in Harare at 5:30p.m. A State dinner which stared at 7:00p.m.for him is still in progress as I write this. BUT notice what I told you about Mugabe? Have you noticed how his face has suddenly changed from the gaunt image we saw before he left the country to go to Dubai? That's botox for you!

Harare, Zimbabwe, 27 August 2009

There has been much talk around my article on Mugabe's secret trip to Dubai, which most ordinary Zimbabweans are still in the dark about, although that story of mine was picked up by Reuters, The Times of South Africa and dozens of other publications around the world.

What is emerging now is that Mugabe was "jittery" about his health even before the passing away of Vice-president Msika this month. I suppose at his age, this is to be expected.

Those close to him say that he is now turning into a hypochondriac. He has always obsessed about his health and takes special care about what he eats (more of that later on) and the death of his close friend and associate, the Vice-president Msika, also got him reflecting.

Mugabe has three health complaints right now, although only the prostate issue would be life-threatening if it has ever been found to be malignant. No one can say for sure on this specific ailment.

One is blood pressure, supposedly, and it is this that he has explained to some people that causes "puffiness" around his face. Of course, it could well be that, instead of admitting to botox injections, he would rather explain his changing facial appearance this way. Having botox injections is a sign of vanity and he has always prided himself on his "humility" and "keeping it real".

But the botox story is confirmed by those who have worked closely with him. The sources say this practice started a few years after he married Grace and around the time that cartoonists in Zimbabwe started drawing him looking shriveled up and gaunt.

A more obvious give-away is the fact that, as everyone can see, Mugabe also now dyes his hair, a practice that he started only after his marriage to Grace. previously, the shock of white hair on his hairline was a trademark of his. So, vanity, then, explains the botox injections and the "puffiness" and not and blood pressure thingy.

Mugabe other medical problem is his prostate, which is a normal thing for people his age. It is not in dispute that Mugabe has had this problem looked at. But what is not known is whether the prostate was found to be malignant or not.

The continued visits to his urologist are seem by some as "precautionary", as in "check-up" to make sure everything is fine.

Lastly, I am told that Mugabe also has a long-standing gastro-intestinal complaint. This apparently goes back years, perhaps even decades.

It is because of this particular problem that Mugabe insists on what he sees as "wholesome food".

When he travels abroad, he prefers to stay in houses or flats and not in hotels if he can help it, and he brings his own chef along with him.

His diet, because of this ailment, consists of porridge in the mornings made mostly from maize (corn)-meal or millet flour.

His sadza (Zimbabwe's staple food) is also made out of millet flower or rough-milled maize-meal, known in Zimbabwe as Roller Meal.

Apart from this, he is also very particular about vegetables, with ZANU PF farms in every province sending him peas, green beans, spinach, potatoes and other vegetables every month.

He is also quite partial to peanut butter and dried meat (biltong or beef jerky as the North American call it), which is cooked in Peanut butter for his meals. Some of you may recall that a couple of years back, staff on Air Zimbabwe flight to Singapore were fired on the spot after Mugabe and his wife complained about a spelling error on the menu.

The story, which was covered by the Financial Gazette of Harare, was that the presidential menu on that flight included an option of dried meat in peanut butter. But it was written in Shona, the main local language.

Where it should have read "Chimukuyu (biltong or dried meat) ne dovi (with peanut butter), the last word was misspelled on the menu so that it read "dodi" (excrement) instead of "dovi"(peanut butter).

Anyway, that is just an aside.

Mugabe has also previously told interviewers that he does yoga every morning, but those who have worked with him for decades dismiss this as nonsense. When he was still staying at State House in Harare (he now lives at his private mansion in Helensvale), every morning, he would use the concrete stairs at the back of one of the buildings there for exercise, climbing up and down those stairs for half an hour to 45 minutes before his bath and breakfast.

When he travels, an exercise bike is now brought along and he uses this. I have no idea what he does at his home or whether he has had stairs installed there as well.

The Zimbabwean dictator's health is almost a taboo subject within ZANU PF and within his government. Everyone knows better than to discuss it.

He himself has previously described his close associates who discuss and speculate on his health as "witches waiting by the door for a person to die so that they can eat his flesh."

That pretty much ended all open talk of his health.

There is no doubt that the president is still in amazing health for an 85 year old.

He has boasted on several occasions that he he knows for fact that he will reach at least the age of 105.


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