Robert Mugabe’s Singapore medical visit puts the spotlight on African leaders and medical tourism

Mugabe isn’t the only politician to fuel the medical tourism discussion. 

David Mabuza

Early in November, South African deputy president David Mabuza raised eyebrows by going to Russia on sick leave.

According to Sunday Times, Mabuza’s spokesperson, Thami Ngwenya, said although the deputy president had taken sick leave, he was not “ill”. 

“It would be mischievous to ask how ill is the deputy president when no such inference was made,” said Ngwenya.

Jacob Zuma

In 2015, former president Jacob Zuma also allegedly sought the expertise of medical professionals in Russia, stated a Sunday Times report.

Claims implicated Zuma’s wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, in a plot to poison the former president. 

Zuma allegedly found out while on a visit to the US that he had been poisoned. It is believed he then flew to Russia, where the diagnosis was confirmed and he was treated for poisoning.

Ntuli-Zuma denied involvement in any attempt to harm her husband. 

Zuma was grateful to Russian doctors for the treatment he believed had saved his life.

At the time, he said: “If I didn’t have friends overseas, today you would be saying there was a man from Nkandla, but he died.”


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