President Robert Mugabe is expected to fly to Singapore this morning amid speculation that the aging leader’s visit is motivated by medical reasons.

This is believed to be his eighth visit to Singapore this year.

Mugabe, who is reportedly suffering from several diseases consistent with old age, is expected to leave this morning on a commercial plane to Johannesburg where he will catch another commercial flight to Singapore.

However, presidential spokesperson George Charamba, who has on many occasions said Mugabe was enjoying good health and that he was not aware of the trip.

“I am in Buhera so I do not know what is happening there. Who is saying that the President is ill,” asked Charamba.

About a month ago, Mugabe traveled the same way to Singapore but Charamba had said that his boss was in Harare. Mugabe’s trip, which comes days after his ally Muammar Gaddafi was brutally killed by Libyan forces, will raise speculation on his health.

The last time he traveled to Singapore for the trip which Charamba said his boss had not taken, Mugabe claimed he had gone there on a private visit to see his daughter Bona, who is studying in the Far East country.

To his credit, Mugabe has remained fit for his age and in public, rarely shows any signs of ill-health and at one point jokingly challenged this reporter to a physical fight and went on to throw a few punches in the air to show his “strength.”

In one of the leaked United States diplomatic cables released by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, a US diplomat is said to have seen Mugabe checking in at a cancer clinic.

According to a cable originated by Joel Ehrendriech, a US official, Mugabe visited Singapore in May and August 2008 for cancer treatment.

Speculation on Mugabe’s health started swelling at the end of last week when he failed to officiate at a graduation ceremony at Chinyoyi and Bindura universities.

But Charamba denied that Mugabe’s failure to attend the ceremonies had anything to do with his illness.

“The President was not invited to officiate,” was all Charamba said although Mugabe as chancellor of all government universities in Zimbabwe, makes sure that he presides over the graduation ceremonies.

Mugabe was also due to travel to Switzerland at the weekend for an UN ICT summit and was supposed to come back via Singapore but suddenly changed plans.

A senior government official confirmed Mugabe’s sudden change of plans.

“President Mugabe was supposed to travel to Switzerland and would have come back via Singapore for routine medical checks but it appears something went wrong. He now has to fly tomorrow (today) morning.

“Air Zimbabwe had already made plans to fly him to Switzerland and then Singapore before coming back to Harare but all this has changed suddenly. It looks like he has something he urgently needs to attend to in Singapore,” said the government official.

Mugabe’s several trips to the Far East have gobbled millions of dollars at a time when the country is struggling to service a $9 billion debt and is reeling under a $700 million budget deficit.

SADC leaders at one time even expressed concern over his health and plan to persuade him to quit.

At some point, Members of Parliament from both ZANU PF and MDC considered impeaching him because of his advanced age and ill health.

It is not very clear what Mugabe is suffering from but sources close to him say he has prostate cancer; a condition which local doctors say is common to men of his age.

Doctors also say a man of Mugabe’s age is also prone to dementia. Charamba however, insists that the president has eye problems.

Yet another cable suggested that Mugabe had consulted a UN medical specialist about his medical problems.

“UN resident representative Victor Angelo on November 12 advised Ambassador Sullivan that Mugabe has consulted with a UN medical specialist about some of his medical problems. According to Angelo, Mugabe’s ailments include periodic convulsions and stroke like episodes (perhaps eschemia) brought on by diabetes and a lipid disorder which affects the covering of the brain,” US political officer Win Dayton said.

The octogenarian leader is said to have been shaken by the brutal demise of his long-time ally Gaddafi.

In addition to the loss, he also feels betrayed and was left depressed when he discovered that his most trusted lieutenants went behind his back and held secret meetings with Americans whom he considers as arch enemies, seeking his removal from office.

Mugabe has also been under pressure from his party which wants him to appoint a successor as they no longer have confidence in his leadership.

There are reports that ZANU PF hawks are planning to turn the party’s conference in December into an extra-ordinary congress where they are reportedly plotting to persuade him to step down.