Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will not be attending the centenary celebrations for South Africa's ruling African National Congress despite an earlier commitment, raising fresh speculation about his failing health.
ANC sources said Mr. Mugabe had promised to cut short his annual leave in the far East to attend the weekend festivities that will attract more than 40 heads of state. ANC leader and South African President Jacob Zuma will lead the celebrations.
Mugabe Spokesman George Charamba said the president had no plans for the milestone. He will instead be represented by Vice President Joice Mujuru who left Harare with a high-powered ZANU-PF delegation Friday.
The ZANU-PF team includes party Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa, who lampooned the ANC on Thursday, accusing the party of failing to provide leadership in Africa, especially on the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya.
The ANC, whose leader President Zuma is mediating the Harare crisis on behalf of the Southern African Development Community or SADC, also invited the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Tsvangirai MDC said it will be represented by its Chairman Lovemore Moyo, who doubles as House Speaker.
International Relations expert Clifford Mashiri told VOA's Blessing Zulu that Mr. Mugabe’s absence at this massive celebration is a cause for concern as he barely skips such events when invited.