PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe (91) yesterday showed signs of worsening frailty as he stumbled backwards before being assisted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and aides to scale a small step while attending the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India.
The incident, which went viral on social media, reminded many of Mugabe’s dramatic fall at the Harare International Airport in January on arrival from the African Union (AU) summit where he had assumed the continental body’s chairmanship.
Mugabe made headlines for tumbling while getting off from a podium after addressing ministers, security service chiefs and Zanu PF supporters upon his arrival from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he had taken over the rotational AU chairmanship.
Government officials and aides close to Mugabe say they have closely observed in recent years that the president has been fast deteriorating in terms of physical stature, mental alertness and health.
Mugabe, who will be turning 92 in the next four months, is widely seen as no longer fit to govern with close government officials and aides saying old age and health problems are taking a heavy toll on him.
However, yesterday Mugabe stumbled backwards before he took to the stage until Modi and aides helped him to move forward. After his speech, Modi again helped Mugabe to get off the podium.
In his address, Mugabe called for the amendment of the United Nations charter demanding equal treatment of all countries. Mugabe, who is the current AU chairman, called for Africa to have greater representation on the UN Security Council, which he described as “defective”.
“We are saying that we demand equality … We are saying, let’s amend the charter of the UN,” Mugabe said.
Modi also said India and Africa must join forces to call for reform of the UN to reflect the growing power of emerging nations on the global stage.
In a speech at the summit, Modi said the UN and other global institutions “risked becoming irrelevant” if they do not adapt to a changing political and economic landscape.
As the UN celebrates the 70th anniversary of its charter this month, the Indian premier said India and Africa should “speak with one voice” to seek “reforms of the United Nations, including its Security Council”.
India and Africa are together home to a third of the world’s population, but neither India nor any African country has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, which is made up of China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and France.
“The world is undergoing political, economic, technological and security transition on a scale and speed rarely seen in recent history,” Modi said, in a wide-ranging speech. “Yet our global institutions reflect the circumstances of the century that we left behind, not the one we are in today … unless they adjust to the changing world, they risk becoming irrelevant.”