A spokesman for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says an online rumor that the 91-year-old leader is seriously ill is false.

The Herald, a state-run newspaper in Zimbabwe, on Thursday quoted spokesman George Charamba as saying the allegation in the ZimEye website was designed to make money by attracting more readers to the site.

The allegation was made in a letter to the editor that the website later attributed to a former army captain in Zimbabwe.

The Herald quoted Charamba as saying false rumors that Mugabe is dead usually circulate every January when the leader is on annual leave.