Mugabe Aide Insists His Boss Isn't Sleeping in Meetings

Zimbabwe president's spokesperson says 93-year-old's eyes are sensitive to light
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2017 1:06 PM CDT
Mugabe Aide: He's Not Sleeping, His Eyes Are Sensitive
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe appears to be asleep during the first plenary session of the 3rd Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli, Libya, in 2010.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

(Newser) – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has become well-known for appearing to sleep through conferences and meetings, but his spokesperson insists the 93-year-old is not actually asleep when he's pictured in repose. "At 93, there is something that happens to the eyes and the president cannot suffer bright lights," the rep explained to a local radio station, per Quartz. "If you look at his poise, he looks down, avoids direct lighting."

The aide noted that Nelson Mandela suffered from a similar problem and that photographers were not allowed to use camera flashes around him. Quartz has a series of photographs showing Mugabe "not sleeping" that date back more than a decade. Per the BBC, Mugabe is reportedly getting medical treatment for his eyes in Singapore. (Mugabe's wife says he should still lead the country even after he's dead.)

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