Zambian President Michael Sata, who officially opened this year’s exhibition and Mugabe’s aides, came to the rescue.
The incident happened just nine days after he had to be similarly rescued by one of his aides when he missed a step and almost slipped during Independence Day commemorations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare. Zimbabwe Independent reporters witnessed the Independence Day incident.
Witnesses who were at trade fair last week said Mugabe almost fell before a crowd of about 6 000 Zanu PF supporters bussed in mainly from Umguza, Insiza and Zvimba to bolster numbers and give the visiting Sata the impression he is still popular and capable of winning elections. That would help Mugabe in the Sadc region to lobby for early elections and endorsement and legitimacy of the outcome is disputed.
Mugabe and Sata had earlier toured a few stands before being dropped off in front of the grandstand at the main arena just after 2pm.
“As the two presidents walked on the red carpet towards the saluting dais in preparation for Sata to inspect the guard of honour, Mugabe bumped into one of his guards, stumbled and almost fell down, but was quickly rescued by Sata and his minders,” said an eyewitness. “The crowd went quiet as this embarrassing situation happened.”
The latest incident feeds into the growing perception that Mugabe is now frail due to old age and ill-health. This has resultantly caused grave concerns in Zanu PF about the viability of candidacy, especially if elections are held next year. Fears are mounting Mugabe might falter during campaigns given his increasingly undeniable infirmity. Seeing this, Mugabe himself seems uncertain about his capacity to withstand a grueling national elections campaign next year and is thus demanding polls this year, with or without a new constitution.
Zanu PF had organised bussedcrowds to make it appear Mugabe was popular by buying tickets for the trade fair for a large number of their supporters. — Staff writer.