Mugabe under fire over trip

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe, displaying his boundless energy and penchant for the world stage, left the controls of his economically-ravaged nation last week for a two-day dash to participate in the G77 plus China summit in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia. 

The globe-trotting appears to be doing little good to Mugabe’s low popularity rating at home, raising the risk that whatever credit he gets internationally does nothing for Zimbabwe’s ailing economy.

Despite the deepening economic problems back home, Mugabe has instead turned his attention to global economic woes, choosing to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations of the G77 a grouping under the United Nations (UN), with members from 133 developing nations which also includes China, now considered one of the super powers of the world.

The G77 is meeting to draft a global anti-poverty agenda at a summit that also showcases Latin America’s burgeoning relationship with the Asian giants.

Mugabe’s trip risks leaving problems untended on the home-front, where hard-pressed citizens are criticising his government for unfulfilled election promises, coupled with a spiralling  unemployment rate and deflation.

This comes also at a time when serious cracks have resurfaced in his ruling Zanu PF party.

Economist Takunda Mugaga said not much is expected for Zimbabwe from the G77 gathering.

“However, Mugabe is under economic pressure that he can’t be seen shunning such a gathering, considering there are few relevant platforms Zimbabwe is ever invited to, due to sanctions,” Mugaga said, adding that  staying at home or attending the G77 meeting will not make any major difference.

“Save for the fact that the entourage  that he will carry along with him will continue fraying the fiscus, which is already summoned to fund unnecessary vehicles for legislators,” he said.

Bulawayo-based economist Eric Bloch told the Daily News that the latest G77 escapade will not resolve  the deepening challenges bedevilling the economy, despite it being a little step forward.

“We have to repair our relationship with the international community but the trips will be necessary only if we can have a change of some of the country’s policies,” Bloch said.

“The benefits of strengthening our relationship with other countries will only be realised if we take measures aimed at revamping bad policies.”

He said one of the key policies was to ensure there is restoration of investment security, to ensure that substantial foreign direct investment (FDI) was forthcoming.

“Intensive promotion and facilitation of FDI, in order to stimulate substantial economic growth, which would assure enhanced state revenues, enabling progressive debt repayment is of paramount importance,” Bloch said.

Mugabe’s past forays onto the world stage have stifled government business back home, with crucial Cabinet meetings being called off during his absence.

Analysts say global diplomacy may not be the right track to take under such an economic crisis.

Indeed, many of those who say they dislike Mugabe say it is precisely because of his showiness and impulsiveness.

Analysts say it is time for Mugabe to prove his mettle on the domestic front, for example by creating jobs and attending to the deepening economic problems here.

Mugabe risks looking weak, not strong, by running around the world when the economy back home was unravelling, with government failing to pay its workers and the taxman aggressively filing tax-evasion charges against wealthy businesspeople, as well as celebrities.

Takavafira Zhou of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe said while the State was obliged to bankroll Mugabe’s junkets, he also had an obligation to solve the deepening liquidity crunch in Zimbabwe.

“The government is failing to address the liquidity crisis, it is failing to pay civil servants or increase their salaries, so you wonder why government has liquidity when it comes to the president’s visits?” Zhou said, adding concern was not only on his G77 summit visit but his increasing trips to Singapore for medical attention, said to be gobbling millions per trip, according to former Finance minister Tendai Biti.

“It is also a dangerous scenario where the president has no faith in the health system in this country,” Zhou said. “He must establish a good health system in his own country.

“It is dereliction of duty on the part of Mugabe that he is not interested in the health system locally. His globe-trotting with his Cabinet ministers for medication is causing the downfall of the economy.”

Zhou said civil servants were worried about the globe-trotting at a time they are being called on to start belt-tightening.

“Civil servants are facing a series of challenges while Mugabe is away,” Zhou said.

“The factions in his Zanu PF party are looting money while he is away with the intention to use it after his death,” Zhou said.

“He should stay more in the country not his remote control rule outside the country.”

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said there was nothing new about Mugabe’s globe-trotting, saying he has been doing so for the past years regardless of the sinking economy.

Masunugure said the people of Zimbabwe should not be worried about Mugabe’s junkets as they have become routine.

“I do not think there is anything new about Mugabe’s globe-trotting because he is a globe-trotter,” Masunungure said.

“We are far from that period and it is ideal that everyone should not be worried about his travels. This is part of him being a President because he is a globetrotter. It may worry the Zimbabweans but they have to know that it has become his routine.”

Masunungure said Mugabe was not worried about the crumbling economy.

Comments (22)

Why can't the old man rest and send his deputy. Ndege inonakidza here nhai mudhara wetu?

N. Ncube - 16 June 2014

Do not be fooled this old guy is actually on a medical trip . He is hiding behind some funny economic meetings but he is in a hospital nothing else he can not fool us anymore .we now know all his tricks . Slow death is very painful.

Diibulaanyika - 16 June 2014

he is the president he should go as long as he is is his right also to go for medical check ups in singapore.

kind - 16 June 2014

so you want the president to miss meetings because the economy is down. nxaaaaa,

wind - 16 June 2014

Inga vakambo ramwa kuenda kuBelgium. Vaingoramwaka futi to save money uye kugadzirisana naJonso

Bambo Chimwene - 16 June 2014

@idiots kind and mamempo wind what does your president know about economy who is going to listen to him when he has run down africa number economy to number last only fools like wind and kind will listen to him . As for medical treatment he must go to pararenyatwa not to singapore do you hear mampepo

Diibulaanyika - 16 June 2014

He refused to attend a meeting because the wife was denied a leaves me wondering. Arikutonga ndiani dhirezi kana trouse??? you need to engage the EU , they gave you a chance and you found an excuse of not attending. now you rush to a meeting were everyone is holding a begging bowl and 1 Loan shark is attending.......So much for Zim's educated fools

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DR T - 17 June 2014

Kune vanhu vakawanda vasingazive kuti chinonzi kutonga chii. Uye kana mumba menyu maita nzara zvoreva here kuti hamuchaenda here kunoenda vamwe. Tingave tine nhamo munyika asi hazvireve kuti hatichakwanisa kuenda kwatashevedwa nevamwe pamusoro pokuchema nhamo. The President vakagona zvikuru kuenda kumusangano ndiro basa reFigure Head iroro. Vasingazive ngavadzidziswe.

Mapondera Lovemore - 17 June 2014

Tsvangy anoenda kwaT B Joshuwa asi hapana anotaura rubbish yamunotaura

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walle - 17 June 2014

it is too late to comment on his trips - remember the time he went round the world when the country had no diesel

pty - 17 June 2014

these are the last kicks of a .... mukati zimbabwe inomunadza no anotodawo diaspora sevamwe vese

thulani - 18 June 2014

Zimbabwe should participate in international discussions at several fora. However, I don't think it is necessary for us to be represented by the president everytime. We can send a minister to some meetings, of a vice president for other meetings. It is expesnive for us to be always represented bt the president, because travel arrangements, mode and security for the president chew much more money. We wont need a whole Boeing 767 to ferry Mumbengegwi or Nhema to a meeting. We instead just buy a ticket for him and his aide. The President can then concentrate on other things back home.

machakachaka - 18 June 2014

Taura hako Machakachaka,mumbengegwi naNhema zvatokwana kana naicho Chinotimba or Jonso but ie,naJonso nyika inotengeswa kabisira ndapota mazimbabweans,u can't trust that guy at all,its all fools who can trust that trash.

Cde Chinotimba - 18 June 2014

The President is entitled to as many healthy checks as possible. Lets be realistic guys. Lets be critical of policies that are unclear and dubious and not on everything the President does. Aint it that we are saying mapostori should not deprive their children of healthcare when necessary?

mudhara tindo - 19 June 2014

Why do you say Mugabe has gone for a medical check up?he is made of iron;makambonzwawo kuti nhai president varwara kubva zvamakavaziva?munhui asingabatwi chero neflu zvayo?kikikikiki haa yaas unobva watoona kuti apa paita zvemunhu mutano apa,

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