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Under Pressure to Disclose, Zimbabwe's Mugabe Denies Health Problems

Pressure for President Mugabe to be more candid about his health has increased with disclosures by Deputy Prime Minister Thokozane Khupe that has cancer and House Speaker Lovemore Moyo that he has diabetes

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has insisted he is in good health, dismissing weekend press reports that his departure last week for Asia was to get further treatment for prostate cancer, saying instead he visited his daughter Bona, studying in China.

The privately-owned Standard newspaper quoted government spokesman Webster Shamu at the weekend as saying Mugabe was in Singapore for a review following eye cataract surgery earlier this year.

But on his return late Sunday Mugabe dispelled lingering concerns about his health saying he was well and that the purpose of his visit was to see his daughter.

The state-run broadcasting network described him as “jovial.”

Rumours about Mugabe’s health were recently nurtured by US diplomatic cables leaked to the press by the Wikileaks website quoting Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono as telling US envoys that Mugabe had prostate cancer that had spread and that he might not live beyond 2013.

Pressure for Mr. Mugabe to disclose details on his health has increased recently following disclosures by two senior government officials about their conditions.

Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe has disclosed she has breast cancer, and House Speaker Lovemore Moyo revealed Saturday he is diabetic.

Political analyst commented that Mr. Mugabe and others in high office should follow those examples.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF says it has started getting ready for a crucial 12th national conference in Bulawayo in December.

Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said this conference is particularly important as it comes before the national elections expected to be held in 2012.

Gumbo told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri the party has already picked Mr. Mugabe as its candidate for those elections, so the conference will endorse his candidature.