HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe arrived at the capital’s main airport from abroad on Saturday, according to a Reuters witness, following intense rumours that he was gravely ill and had sought medical help in Dubai.
Mugabe, 92 and Africa’s oldest leader, looked jovial as he disembarked in the company of security aides.
“I had gone on a family matter to Dubai concerning one of my children,” he told reporters in the local Shona language, without giving details.
“Yes, I was dead, it’s true I was dead. I resurrected as I always do. Once I get back to my country I am real,” Mugabe added tongue-in-cheek in English, referring to speculation on some online news websites that he had succumbed to illness.
Reports that Mugabe’s health is declining have become common but he has often referred to himself as “fit as a fiddle.”
Mugabe rejects accusations by his political opponents that he has brought one of Africa’s most promising economies to its knees since coming to power at independence from Britain in 1980.
Zimbabwe is struggling to pay salaries to soldiers, police and other public workers, fuelling political tensions including within his ruling ZANU-PF party.