3 April 2017

Zimbabwe: Mugabe's 'Wheelchair' Donation Massaged

Photo: Gado/RNW
Introducing Zimbabwe's presidential candidate, Robert Mugabe.

ZIMBABWE'S public media has long been accused of massaging facts - positively for the ruling Zanu PF party but disingenuously and with a tinge of scorn too for the opposition.

Public broadcaster, the ZBC, reported Monday that a "special mobile chair" had been donated to President Robert Mugabe by his cabinet as a belated birthday present.

It may have been two days after April Fools' Day, but this was no belated prank.

Ministers had actually done a whip-round and bought Mugabe what the ZBC described as a "special mobile chair" and a 9-carat gold watch.

But what is a "special mobile chair"? Or, was the ZBC as is their wont 'massaging' the fact that cabinet had, tellingly, decided to buy Mugabe a wheelchair?

Remarked one social media user; "Zimbabwe cabinet ministers presented a 'mobile chair' known to humans as wheelchair to President Mugabe".

The President turned 93 this year. He performs to, and lives his age; very deliberate and laboured of speech and often tumbling off his feet in public.

Yet Mugabe refuses to retire and is even seeking re-election in 2018 for another five-year term.

His wife did warn that he would even report for work in a wheelbarrow or wheelchair. Perhaps the ministers had finally decided to oblige.

But that would have been unusually daring. Unusual because - and as South Africa's Julius Malema noted - they are all diligent cowards.

Mugabe's top aides privately agree he shouldn't be in office a day longer, but none would dare say that to his face. The punishment could be an accident, or exile from party and government - and it's known to be rather' cold out there'.

Regardless, Twitter went agog; some wondering whether Mugabe would "get the message" from his suddenly emboldened aides while others quipped that "Mugabe's falling days are now in the past".

The gift was seen as "thoughtful and practical" to help the elderly leader "get around home and office" while others picking up on the tremor which hit Botswana and was felt in Zimbabwe remarked; "it wasn't a tremor, Mugabe just fell off his new wheelchair".

Another Twitter user added; "Even the heavens are perplexed with Mugabe's intention to rule from wheelchair. The tremors confirmed it."

The opposition weighed in too with Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC-T saying "The special chair is a clear admission that Mugabe is now physically and mental unfit and we can no longer allow him to govern.

"He should simply resign."

A ZAPU spokesman added; "Clearly Mugabe has been given a mobile chair. It's a polite way of saying they have given him a wheelchair. He should simply resign

The ZBC report was then edited to read "special massage chair" in bid to kill the fun. It was too late.

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