INFORMATION minister Christopher Mushohwe has rejected reports that President Robert Mugabe dozed off and struggled to stay on his feet during a press conference with Japanese premier Shinzo Abe this week.
Mushohwe’s predecessor at the information minister, Jonathan Moyo, also famously claimed that Mugabe ‘broke the fall’ after the veteran leader tumbled to the ground at Harare airport in February last year.
Mugabe was due back in Harare Saturday morning after passing through Singapore.
Meanwhile, Mushohwe said the 92-year-old leader was nodding at remarks made premier Abe and not snoozing as the media reported.
In a statement Friday, the minister accused the media of being disrespectful towards Mugabe who turned 92 last month and now regularly travels to Singapore for medical treatment.
Mugabe was in Japan at the invitation of Abe who is keen to further diplomatic ties ahead of the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), which will be held in Kenya this August.
A Reuters news agency video shows Mugabe appearing to snooze at a press conference held Monday as premier Abe welcomed him as an “iconic” leader of Africa.
Never, insisted Mushohwe in his statement.
President Mugabe was on his feet as Mr Abe delivered his statement to the Press,” said the minister.
“Watching the said video clip, even at close range, one could see President Mugabe nodding his head in response to the message being delivered by the Japanese Prime Minister.
“Any sane person watching that video clip would dismiss the propaganda story with the contempt it deserves.”
Mushohwe accused the media of trying to embarrass the veteran Zanu PF leader.
“My Ministry … would want to appeal and caution against (the) continuous, unwarranted, disrespectful and unprofessional onslaught on the person of the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, His Excellency the President, Cde R.G. Mugabe,” he said.
“It is clear to us that whether it was an April fools’ prank or unintended, either way, the motive was to injure and damage the reputation of our President in a big way, which is very shameful because it flies in the face of our national values and culture.
“We do not expect this kind of unprofessional behaviour and wilful misconduct from our journalists. This kind of gutter journalism resides on the social media platforms and should not be allowed in the mainstream media.”