These are not the best times for Zimbabwe. The South African country is facing its worst economic turmoil since dollarisation in 2009. Long queues are often seen in banks as cash scarcity deepens. The $94 million worth of bond notes recently introduced has not had any significant impact on things, although the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya said the notes were never intended as a solution to the crisis.
But there are other issues; one such is a two-week strike by junior doctors and nurses at public hospitals, aimed at pressuring Mugabe’s government into paying 2016 bonuses due in December.
While these are happening, the nonagenarian who celebrated his 93rd birthday last month travelled to Singapore for a medical checkup.
“His Excellency the President left for Singapore for a scheduled medical review. We expect him back in the country early next week,” spokesman George Charamba was quoted by Reuters to have said.
Mugabe frequents Singapore for medical checks. Reports suggest he has prostate cancer but Mugbe’s office denies this, often saying he suffers from an eye cataract.
A similar situation is playing out in Nigeria whose president has been out of the country for weeks on supposed medical leave. Reports have suggested that Muhammadu Buhari is being treated for colon cancer but presidential aides have dismissed such reports without saying much about the president’s health status.
Overseas medical trips by African leaders is fast catching up with their unwillingness to leave power. Many believe the rush abroad for medical reasons testify to the collapse of public health system in their countries.
Mugabe has led Zimbabwe for 36 years. He is 93, becoming increasingly frail and struggles to walk, but he plans to remain in power for another six years before dying at 100.