In Ethopia, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is “recovering well,” a spokesman said Wednesday, amid frenzied speculation about the health of the usually visible leader, who has not appeared in public for two months, CNN reports.
Zenawi has not appeared in public since June, and the secretive nation has released little information about his whereabouts, prompting rumors and opposition claims that he is dead or facing a life-threatening illness.
After weeks of speculation, the government held a news conference last month and announced he got treatment for an unspecified illness.
His absence has been a hot topic in the nation, with bloggers launching a counter of the number of days he’s been missing. Citizens have taken to social media to discuss his whereabouts and exchange conspiracy theories.
“Ethiopians are a bit confused,” said Endalk Hailemichael, 30, of Addis Ababa. “In Ethiopia, there are traditions of secrecy and hiding the whereabouts of leaders. People are afraid, there is a lot of uncertainty looming. A lot of rumors and unclear information going on.”
His absence was more evident last month when Ethiopia hosted an African Union summit in its capital of Addis Ababa. Zenawi, a key player in talks on the tensions between Sudan and its rival neighbor South Sudan, did not attend.
In Uganda, news24 reports that President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday reinstated several corruption-tarnished ministers in a cabinet reshuffle that left most of the major positions unchanged.
Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa returned to his post after stepping down last year when prosecutors filed graft charges against him in connection with a multi-million dollar hotel deal for a 2007 Commonwealth summit in Kampala. The post had been filled by an acting minister.
A list released by the president’s office said that John Nasasira and Mwesigwa Rukutana, who stepped down alongside Kutesa, have been reappointed to cabinet as minister in charge of general duties and junior labour minister respectively.
All three have denied the corruption allegations, and a court in April dismissed charges against the trio due to a legal technicality.
In Zimbabwe, South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday conceded challenges in Zimbabwe’s unity government after meeting with leaders of the three main party leaders, days before a summit of regional mediator the SADC, news24 reports.
“I think there is progress that has been made but there are some hitches here and there,” Zuma told reporters after he was briefed on reforms in talks with President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
“The issues are no longer as major as they used to be,” he said, after his first visit since 2010 to the country.
The “hitches” referred to disagreements on the draft master law, Tsvangirai said after meeting with Zuma. “It’s mainly around the constitution,” he said.
Tsvangirai, however, said some of the disagreements would be discussed at the 15-nation Southern African Development Community summit in Maputo on Friday.
“It has been decided that this matter will be revisited at the summit,” he said.
Mugabe, however, didn’t “see any controversial issues” going into the summit.