PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe underwent what is said to be a major prostate cancer operation during his annual holiday in Singapore, hence his delayed return to allow him time to recuperate, government and close family sources have revealed.
Mugabe, who returned yesterday to a planned rousing welcome by Zanu PF supporters brandishing mostly anti-Didymus Mutasa placards and T-shirts bearing statements like “In support of our supreme leader, Cde RG Mugabe”, said his wife Grace had undergone an operation to remove her appendix.
Although Mugabe did not mention his own operation, he disclosed that he and his family had undergone medical check-ups during their holiday.
However, Mugabe said Grace, whom he referred to as “Amai Stop It” in reference to her repeated attacks on party factional leaders, was admitted in hospital and only discharged on Tuesday. He said the First Lady was still recuperating and would only return mid-February.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba yesterday denied the president had been operated on, stating he had gone for “an annual review of his eyes”.
The president apologised for his delayed return saying: “I am sorry
we took a long time outside. We were not here during the Christmas holiday. Mai Stop It (Grace) was feeling pain on her side, so we went for medical examinations. It (the holiday) is also time for us all, with the kids, to be examined to see if we are healthy,” he said.
“But the First Lady was in so much pain … and doctors established that it was appendicitis. It was removed. Doctors say it is not useful although from time to time it can cause harm.
“She didn’t know what was causing the pain, but the operation was successful. She was discharged the day before yesterday (Tuesday).”
Mugabe though appeared quite fit despite evident signs of old age such as struggling for balance while walking and slurred speech.
A close family relative said: “The president had surgery for prostate cancer while on holiday in Singapore and it was a major procedure. That is why he delayed his return. What I can say is that he has recovered and is now quite well.
“You will see him when he returns tomorrow (yesterday).”
Another senior government official confirmed this saying, “We have been informed that the president had an operation while in Singapore, but is fit now.”
Mugabe has been visiting Singapore regularly for treatment since 2011, but his trips have been increasing with each passing year, suggesting deteriorating health due to advanced age.
He has been treated before at the exclusive Gleneagles Hospital, a world-class institution frequented by the rich and famous where “high-end” (rich) patients like Mugabe pay a minimum of SGD10 000 (Singapore dollars) which is US$8 000.
A British broadcasting station, Channel 4, filmed Mugabe entering the hospital last year.
According to Gleneagles’ website, the hospital, part of which used to be a deluxe hotel, was founded in the 1950s and was progressively upgraded, including undergoing a massive US$150 million three-year expansion which ended in 1994.
The expansion turned it into a multi-disciplinary state-of-the-art medical facility.
Gleneagles houses more than 300 on-site doctors from over 30 specialties and sub-specialties. It offers a wide range of medical and surgical services.
The hospital also has a cancer treatment centre, Parkway Cancer Centre, which offers “comprehensive cancer treatment with a highly skilled, multi-disciplinary team”
It offers the latest technologies in cancer treatment for various types of the ailment, including prostate cancer, which Mugabe is reportedly battling. Prostate cancer is a virulent tumour that grows in the prostate, a walnut-sized gland below the bladder in men.
Most prostate cancers are slow-growing but there are aggressive cases, and the cancer can spread to other parts of the body, especially the bones and lymph nodes.
Senior government officials revealed in WikiLeaks cables that Mugabe’s prostate cancer has metastasised, spreading to other parts of the body.
Officials at the Gleneagles cancer centre last year refused to confirm if they were treating Mugabe there.
The hospital also has a state-of-the-art eye clinic Parkway Eye Centre where Mugabe, who had cataracts removed from both eyes, was apparently attended to last year.
Mugabe’s right eye gave him serious and visible discomfort in public last year, including during the Independence Day celebrations as shown on the state-run ZBC.
The eye centre is run by Dr Lee Hung Ming, the first eye surgeon in Singapore to perform the all-laser, no-blade lasiksurgery.— Staff Writer.