Social media abuzz with Mugabe collapse rumour
13 January 2016, 19:12
Harare - Social media was abuzz on Wednesday with rumours doing the rounds that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was in a critical condition following a heart attack.
Several online media outlets also carried the story.
According to a UK publication, The Daily Star, Mugabe reportedly collapsed on Tuesday while on annual leave in Singapore.
Reports of high-level meetings have also been circulated, with some suggesting that the president may hand over power as a result of his ill health.
South African radio station SA FM also carried the story, having later retracted their statement, saying the claims were unsubstantiated and may form part of a hoax.
Attempts by News24 to gain official commentary on the matter proved futile, with calls to Mugabe's spokesperson, George Charamba getting no response.
Although the development remains unconfirmed, social media has been set ablaze by the announcement, with some even speculating that the appointment of an acting president may have been a preemptive measure on the part of the Zimbabwean government.
According to a Zimbabwean publication, The Herald, Vice President Emmerson Mnangwa has been appointed as the country's acting president since Monday. Mnangagwa took over from his counterpart Phelekezela Mphoko, who had been in the position since December 24 when Mugabe left the country.
A journalist in Zimbabwe told News24 on Wednesday that reports about the veteran leader’s ill health always emerged "every single January... the reports do not appear any stronger than those in previous years".
Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has always dismissed Mugabe’s ill health reports as being aimed at causing "false alarm and despondency".
In 2014, one of Mugabe's loyalists, Psychology Maziwisa, was quoted as saying that there was “nothing new about these reports as we hear about them every year”.
The nonagenarian’s health is a concern for Zimbabweans who fear instability if he dies in office without resolving a succession battle raging in his party.
Despite several hoaxes having taken place in the past, many have taken to social media platform Twitter to send wishes of support and recovery to the supposedly ailing head of state.