Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has returned home following rumours he had been admitted to hospital during a visit in Singapore.

The 88-year-old head of state arrived at Harare's main airport, accompanied by his wife, a day later than scheduled. He was reported to be fit and well.

He had been in Singapore to oversee his daughter's enrolment in a postgraduate programme, but rumours surfaced that he was seriously ill.

Members of his Zanu-PF party had denied the claims, saying the president was well.

While Mugabe did not speak to reporters and was swiftly whisked away information minister Webstter Shamu, who had invited reporters to witness Mugabe's return, accused the media of spreading rumours.

"As you can see, the man is fit. Why do we lie and why do we panic?" he said.

Rumours of Mugabe's ill-health first surfaced in the Zimbabwe Mail. It reported that a member of the Zanu-PF party had revealed that the president was "fighting for his life" after being admitted to a hospital in Singapore.

Despite recurrent rumours of declining health Mugabe insisted at his 88th birthday in February that he was "as fit as a fiddle" and joked that he had been resurrected more times than Jesus Christ.

While Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, is sharing power with opposition leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a fragile coalition formed three years ago, he has refused to earmark a successor.

Observers have suggested vice-president Joice Mujuru, who was at the airport to welcome the president, or defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mugabe has called for presidential elections this year in a move opposed by Tsvangirai. The president has been nominated as his party's only candidate.