13 July 2014

Zimbabwe: I Am Not Sick, Says Biti

Former MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti, who now leads a breakaway "Renewal Team" faction, has responded to swirling rumours over his health, flatly denying he is having health challenges.

The former student leader said in an interview with The Standard on Friday that he would not "dignify malice" by his detractors.

Biti, who critics say has lost weight compared to his days during the inclusive government as Finance minister, said he had seen the "malice" spewed by those sympathetic to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai on social media about his alleged ill-health but said that would not stop the renewal movement.

"Are they my doctors?" Biti said. "I am not sick but obviously I will not go public over malice. I will not dignify their malice by speaking. I have seen what they are writing and saying but that will not stop the renewal movement," the former Finance minister said.

Reports of Biti's health were fuelled on social media, particularly on Facebook, after he led a meeting at Mandel Training Centre that purported to have suspended Tsvangirai from the helm of the party.

His images showing apparent loss of weight compared to his days as a minister were splashed all over, but Biti maintains that what his detractors were insinuating was far from truth.

Recently, Biti's associate, former MDC-T deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma, professed ignorance over Biti's alleged "ill-health".

A journalist had asked Mangoma that since the bombing of Biti's house in Harare, his health had appeared to be deteriorating before directly asking: "What is it that is affecting Biti?"

In response, the former Energy minister said: "Biti has not shared with me his medical history. In any case, my profession is far away from that of a medical doctor. I am a chartered accountant by profession."

Speculation has been rife on the health of Zimbabwe's political leaders particularly President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and now Biti with people saying being public figures, their health was a matter of national concern.

Mugabe is battling an eye problem which, according to official reports, has seen him flying many times to Singapore for medical check-ups.

In May this year, Mugabe was spotted at Gleneagles hospital in Singapore where he was being treated for an eye cataract.

Tsvangirai's health also became a matter of concern recently when he was reported to have been admitted at a local private hospital for an undisclosed ailment.

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