George Charamba, spokesman to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, says the president does not sleep at public functions as it appears.
He blamed the situation on the president’s eye problems, adding that he was only allergic to bright light.
He also said it pains him to hear that the president dozes off in public.
Mugabe flew to Singapore on Tuesday for advanced treatment for eye problems caused by old age, his spokesman told a state-owned newspaper.
His trip to Singapore is coming about two months after his previous such trip to the south Asian nation.
The 93-year-old Mugabe is often caught on camera appearing to be dozing at public events, and his health in general is a hot topic before the 2018 presidential election, which he is expected to contest.
“I feel like a failure when there is this reading that the President is sleeping in conferences. No. At 93, there is something that happens to the eyes and the president cannot suffer bright lights. If you look at his poise, he looks down, avoids direct lighting,” Charamba said.
“In the case of Mandela, if you remember, you were not allowed to even use flashes whenever he was in the room. This is what happens at 93 and Mandela, I do not think lived as long as the president.”
“The trip to Singapore has to do with his eyes and often I have felt very, very pained.”
On May 4 at a World Economic Forum Summit in South Africa, Mugabe sat slumped in his chair, wringing his hands, as he told a panel discussion in a low murmur that his country was not a “fragile state”.
Critics say his infirmities make him unfit to hold office but he continues to exercise tight control over his ZANU-PF party.
Grace Mugabe, his wife however defended her husband, saying he was irreplaceable and even if he contested the election as a corpse the people would vote for him.
Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano state governor, has also been accused of dozing off in public functions.
He had however said he was only pretending and not sleeping.