By Bridget Mananavire
President Robert Mugabe exposed his increasing frailty as he struggled to walk to the podium to deliver his speech at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday.
The 93-year-old had to hold onto a chair close to the podium for balance. He walked gingerly at first then increased his pace as he reached the podium, doddering while clenching his hands
As he reached the podium, people clapped as if to congratulate him for making it to the podium.
Earlier on, the teetotaller was pictured closing his eyes while US President Donald Trump was delivering his speech.
Mugabe has held power since 1980 during a reign marked by repression of dissent, vote-rigging and the country’s sharp economic decline.
Now the world’s oldest national leader, he has been named Zanu PF presidential candidate during the 2018 elections when he will be 94.
This is not the first time that Mugabe has shown mobility impairment. His advanced age and declining health was on public display at the third India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India in 2015
On two occasions on the big stage in India, Mugabe had to be assisted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as his aides after looking somewhat disoriented and nearly tumbling off the ramp at the mega summit.
In 2015 again, Mugabe fell at the Harare International Airport as he tumbled on the red carpet that had been set up for him upon his return from an African Union summit in Ethiopia.
Mugabe’s health and age have remained on the country’s political agenda with analysts blaming Zanu PF hardliners for pushing the nonagenarian to remain in power.
Succession battles have also erupted as members plot how to replace Mugabe.
Looking resplendent in a dark suit, Mugabe, who is suffering increasing mobility impairment, paused for lengthy periods and mumbled at times as he addressed the 193-member world body.
In his address, Mugabe spoke on development as well as climate change.
He said the decision by the US to abandon the Paris Agreement placed other countries at risk.
He advocated for the respect of sovereignty and defended the rights of each country to take decisions in exercise of their sovereign rights. Daily News