Harare – President Robert Mugabe’s walk at the G-20 summit in Turkey this week has got people talking – even though this time he didn’t actually fall over.
After two “stumbles” in public this year, all eyes are on the long-time Zimbabwean leader’s feet every time he steps out in public.
The 91-year-old’s less-than-speedy progression up a long blue carpet was filmed by New China TV, Xinhua news agency’s official TV channel, and then posted on YouTube.
“As [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan waited while Mugabe walked ever so gingerly the short distance from his Mercedes limousine to the entrance of the conference venue, the Turkish leader probably wondered whether he should not have let the Zimbabwean stay at home,” news website NewZimbabwe quipped.
The report said Mugabe “appeared to walk with some difficulty”.
Mugabe attended the G-20 summit as head of the African Union, though Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change said he had “no business” there and his attendance at the meeting was “a serious national embarrassment”.
Senior Zimbabwean journalist Nqaba Matshazi tweeted on Tuesday: “This time the leader didn’t fall, but his walking gingerly to meet the Turkish leader will get tongues wagging.”
Mugabe’s last stumble was in India in October, when he had to be helped by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Earlier this year he slipped on the red carpet at Harare International Airport, prompting a slew of internet memes and the hashtag #MugabeFalls.
Aides and Mugabe supporters are angered by the attention on the president’s slip-ups and insist he is fit.
Critics of the president say his unsteadiness proves that he should retire and pass power on.
He has been in power in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.