Zimbabwean president stumbles, fuelling health speculation

AP News
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Posted: Oct 31, 2015 11:35 AM

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwean officials dismissed speculation on Saturday about President Robert Mugabe's health after the elderly leader stumbled in public.

Mugabe staggered as he tried to walk up a ramp to the podium at the India-Africa Summit this week. Online videos show Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering Mugabe a hand as the 91-year-old leader regained balance.

"It is a very minor incident in a big heroic act and only fault finders will spend a second on it," presidential spokesman George Charamba said in the state-run Herald newspaper. "President Mugabe is well and has accomplished his mission."

The Herald reported that Mugabe "continued with his busy schedule" after the mishap.

Earlier this year Mugabe tripped and fell at the Harare International Airport in Zimbabwe. In September he read the wrong speech in parliament. In Zimbabwe, this recent stumble has rekindled debate about Mugabe's health and fitness to continue his 35-year rule.

"It's another sign that he is too old. It's time for him to step down and rest," said Obert Gutu, spokesman for the opposition MDC-T party. "We are abusing the man by allowing him to continue with the rigors of running a country."

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.