Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s health was back in the spotlight after flying to Singapore Monday for what government officials said was a routine medical check up.
His previous trips to the same destination over the past few months have sparked speculation the 88-year-old leader's health may be failing due to prostate cancer and advanced age.
Mugabe left Harare Monday morning after chairing a cabinet meeting for about 30 minutes before handing over to Vice President Joyce Mujuru to see the proceedings through.
Traditionally, cabinet meetings are held on Tuesdays, but this week’s caucus was brought forward because the president does not allow the ministerial body to sit in his absence.
State radio said Mugabe, who last visited Singapore in April, will be back at the weekend. He has traveled to Asia about ten times in the past few months, reportedly to seek treatment for cancer.
But Mugabe has strongly denied the reports, saying he is healthy and has a daily workout routine that keeps him in good shape. His wife Grace has also defended his health record.
"President Robert Mugabe left Harare this morning for a routine medical checkup in Singapore," said state broadcaster ZBC. "He is expected back home at the weekend."
Political analyst Nkululeko Sibanda told VOA it is commendable that the government has informed the public that Mr. Mugabe is going away for medical reasons.
But he added that the president should declare his results when he returns.