President Robert Mugabe does not sleep during conferences as often reported by the media. He just rests his eyes because he cannot suffer bright lights, his spokesman George Charamba told CapiTalk radio, according to the State-controlled Herald.
Charamba told the radio station owned by Zimpapers, publishers of the Herald, that Mugabe had a local doctor and only went to Singapore for his eyes because he had to be attended to by a specialist.
“Let this be known to all Zimbabweans — the physician of the President is not only Zimbabwean, he is actually black.
“For security reasons I will not tell you the real name. He is very Zimbabwean. He is very, very, very black,” Charamba said.
“The President goes to Singapore for a very specific problem which has to do with the level of sophistication of medical skills that we have developed.
“It has to do with his eyes and often I have felt very, very pained. In fact, I feel like a failure when there is this reading that the President is sleeping in conferences, no.
“At 93, there is something that happens to the eyes and the President cannot suffer bright lights.
“If you look at his poise, he looks down, avoids direct lighting.
“In the case of Mandela, if you remember, you were not allowed to even use flashes whenever he was in the room.
“That is what happens at 93 and Mandela, I do not think lived as long as the President did.
“Let us disabuse ourselves,” Charamba said.
Mandela died four years ago and was aged 95 years and five months.
Charamba said it was not even Mugabe’s decision to have his eyes attended to abroad.
“It was the decision of opticians who suggested that with the state of his age, with the state of the problem he was having visually, it was important that he gets advanced attention which is obtainable in Singapore,” Charamba said.
“And by the way, that is an international health dispensing institution.
“You meet First World leaders there who are coming for medical assistance in Singapore.
“So, really, there is nothing untoward in the President of Zimbabwe, who has an African Zimbabwean physician, going abroad for specialised treatment the same way that there won’t be anything untoward in Mai Charamba leaving this country to go to South Africa for specialised attention.
“That does not take away the fact that we have an excellent medical services provision in this country. We have a number of specialised doctors, who are manning our institutions.”