The G40 cabal yesterday dragged out an out of sorts Robert Mugabe to address a press conference at his Blue Roof residence in Harare in a bid to shore up the MDC Alliance’s chances in today’s harmonised elections. It was a torturous experience for the 94-year old who intermittently dozed while fielding questions from journalists who grilled him down over his heavy handed rule.
Mr Mugabe’s visible frailty and his unevenly distributed grey hair could not be hidden from the cameras.
Plomped in a chair with a pillow supporting his back, Mr Mugabe had to be assisted by his wife to take some of the questions.
At one point all journalists were herded into a holding room to stop them from taking his pictures as he struggled to walk due to advanced age.
While addressing, one of his aides had to constantly adjust the pillows behind Mr Mugabe’s back as he appeared to be sinking uncontrollably down in his chair.
After the press briefing, Mr Mugabe remained seated for close to 20 minutes until all journalists were out of the premises.
Members of the media were keen to see Mr Mugabe walking as speculation was rife that he could no longer walk.
Soon after the briefing, no one was allowed to take pictures of Mr Mugabe.
It was, however, evident that Mr Mugabe was rumbling and incoherent in his responses.
At one point he said there was no democracy in the country after the events of November 2017, that saw him resigning, but soon after that he acknowledged the opening up of democratic space saying for the first time the country had a record number of 23 Presidential aspirants.
Mrs Mugabe, who was sitting on the far right next to Mr Mugabe and Mr Jealousy Mawarire, regularly interjected while Mr Mugabe was speaking.
Mrs Mugabe barked instructions to her husband.
She demanded that he repeats that he supports Mr Chamisa.
Mr Mugabe said he would congratulate anyone who was going to win, but alluded to the fact that in his view Mr Nelson Chamisa of MDC-Alliance seemed to be doing well in his campaign.
He said he was longing for the election day to bring back the country to constitutionalism despite the fact that he resigned and was succeeded constitutionally.
Mr Mugabe also claimed that he was fired from zanu-pf, a party that he helped form with the likes of the late Vice President Simon Muzenda.
He also acknowledged that President Mnangagwa was a hard working person and that claims by Mr Chamisa that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was captured by were not true.
“It is the 29th of July, the eve of an election,” he said.
“What is tomorrow going to bring us the people of Zimbabwe. We appreciate that.”
“Let the people go and vote freely and I am glad that even ED is saying so.
“It is the first time that we have had a long list of aspirants. 23 is the number of candidates.”