HE'S BACK: Mugabe jets in from Singapore, defies 'gravely ill' rumours (PIC)

Harare - Defying rumours he was "gravely ill", Zimbabwe's 93-year-old president Robert Mugabe arrived back in Harare early on Sunday after a trip to see his doctors in Singapore - and he's looking pretty good, the state ZBC broadcaster reported.

Mugabe's plane (he chartered one for the trip on Wednesday) touched down at the Harare International airport just after 06:00, the report said.

He was met by his two vice presidents - Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko.

The report said Mugabe was looking "upbeat and jovial" and talked with officials before leaving the airport. A photo published on the broadcaster's website showed Mugabe in a suit and red tie smiling as he greeted Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

There was no confirmation, however, if the photo was indeed snapped on Sunday morning.

See photo below.

Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba had been at pains to stress that this was a "scheduled" check-up with doctors. In fact, Mugabe made a similar trip at the same time last year, almost certainly to Singapore, as News24 reported.

But that did not stop speculation from in and outside Zimbabwe that this was a medical emergency. Two journalists from the privately-owned Newsday paper were briefly detained on Friday after a story they published saying that Mugabe was "in a bad shape". 

It has also emerged that Mugabe's daughter Bona travelled with him. She had a baby in April last year in Singapore.

Mugabe's health - or lack of it - is a sensitive topic in Zimbabwe, where the only presidential medical complaint that has ever been publicly discussed is his cataracts. His trip to Singapore was made as Zimbabwe's public hospitals ground to a near-halt due to a strike by doctors, nurses and midwives over pay and conditions. Doctors called off that strike late on Saturday.

Tweeted Zimbabwean @xandatoto in response to news of Mugabe's return: "If he has so little confidence in the health delivery system he presides over that he has to go abroad for routine a check up, who should?"