Concern is growing in Zimbabwe after a 92 year-old man was reported missing after claiming on Monday he was traveling to India. The missing person’s name: Robert Mugabe.
The veteran Zimbabwean leader, who has been in power for 36 years and is the world’s oldest serving head of state, was reported to have left the country on Monday to attend the World Culture Festival in New Delhi, which kicks off in the Indian capital on Friday.
Since then, however, his whereabouts have become something of a mystery. Mugabe canceled his visit to the festival on Wednesday, with his spokesman George Charamba citing “substantial inadequacies in protocol and security arrangements” and saying that Mugabe would return home in “a couple of days.”
U.S. diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks in 2011 claimed that Mugabe was suffering from prostate cancer, though it is not known whether the president still suffers from the disease.
Zimbabwe’s higher education Jonathan Moyo took to Twitter to defend the president’s cancellation of the trip but only added to the mystery by indicating that, while Mugabe did not go to India, he was not in Zimbabwe either.
Trip was certainly not cancelled in India. He did not cut short the visit in India but cancelled the trip to India! https://t.co/dHAJRoQcjZ— Prof Jonathan Moyo (@ProfJNMoyo) March 10, 2016
Not being in the country does not mean he is or was in India! https://t.co/gHCUhGMgid— Prof Jonathan Moyo (@ProfJNMoyo) March 10, 2016
Some Zimbabweans have taken to using the hashtag #BringBackOurBob on social media as the search for Mugabe continues, while others have posted tongue-in-cheek missing posters:
MISSING: Elderly man who left home on Monday saying he's going to India, but was still to arrive there by Thursday! pic.twitter.com/6GlnxiFZh5— Prophet Cynic. (@CynicHarare) March 10, 2016
The president’s absence means that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa assumes the role of Acting President. Mnangagwa is reported to be locked in a battle with Mugabe’s wife Grace to succeed the president, who recently said he wants to live to the age of 100 and has no plans to retire.