- Robert Mugabe's spokesman has defended him against criticism that he sleeps at meetings
- George Charamba said Mugabe has an eye condition
- Mugabe therefore closes them to protect them from bright lights, he said
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe's spokesman has defended him against criticism that he sleeps during official meetings.
The 93-year-old President was seen apparently asleep during proceedings of the World Economic Forum for Africa in Durban, South Africa on May 4.
However, his spokesman George Charamba said on Thursday, May 11 that Mugabe is in fact not sleeping but "closing his eyes to protect them from bright lights."
Charamba said Mugabe has an eye condition that necessitates his frequent travels to Singapore for specialized treatment.
Charamba said: "I feel like a failure when there is this reading that the President is sleeping in conferences. No. At 93, there is something that happens to the eyes and the president cannot suffer bright lights. If you look at his poise, he looks down, avoids direct lighting."
He added: "In the case of Mandela, if you remember, you were not allowed to even use flashes whenever he was in the room. This is what happens at 93..."
President Mugabe is due to return to Zimbabwe over the weekend from his latest medical trip to Singapore. Critics say these trips show he lacks confidence in his own country's medical facilities.
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