HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his family have as usual gone to the Far East for his annual holiday amid growing criticism that he is a double-faced leader who loves to talk a tough pan-African language only when it is politically expedient to do so.
Analysts and the opposition told the Daily News yesterday that Mugabe seemingly “hates anything African” as Zimbabweans have never been told that he is vacationing in tourist-friendly countries on the continent such as Malawi, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa and Mauritius.
In addition, the MDC also feels that it is immoral that the nonagenarian should “even think” of taking a holiday at this time while Zimbabweans are suffering “untold” economic pain resulting from Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s misrule.
“For a country’s chief executive officer to go on a fully State-funded overseas holiday whilst the national economy is virtually comatose just confirms what we in the MDC have always said about the Zanu PF regime, that this is a rogue regime that is being led by a man who is no longer fit for purpose; an old and tired gentleman who doesn’t care one iota whether or not the economy implodes.
“Mugabe has deliberately avoided making the State of the nation address because he has absolutely nothing to say about his government’s plan in order to rescue the economy from intensive care where it is now permanently domiciled.
“Mugabe is past his sell-by date. He is no longer fit for purpose. It is also a tragedy of monumental proportions that Zanu PF rigged itself into power on July 31, 2013.
“While the majority of the people of Zimbabwe are struggling to put one meal on the table per day, Mugabe and his coterie of selfish bootlickers are living large, wining and dining in high society. The sooner this rogue regime gets out of power, the better for the people of Zimbabwe,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.
Another opposition official, while not opposing Mugabe’s request for permission to take leave, called for the government to provide more information about his health, arguing that this latest “sojourn” was less of a holiday but a “medical trip”.
“When you don’t speak with clarity, with transparency, the speculation begins, and understandably so that the president is not well. Zimbabweans have the right to know what the real story is.
“All the indications are that Mugabe doubles up these kinds of vacations with visits to his physicians in the Far East,” he said.
Analysts also pointed out to the Daily News yesterday that before he was banned in the West, Mugabe used to go there on holiday and was a regular visitor to the UK where he, together with his fashion-loving wife, Grace — nicknamed Gucci Grace for her alleged penchant for shopping — were regulars at the famous Harrods store in London.
In his absence, new Deputy President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is the acting president.
It is the first time that crown prince Mnangagwa is acting as interim Head of State and he will be in charge until mid to late January next year when Mugabe is expected back.
He was appointed first vice president just after the ruling Zanu PF party’s damp squib “elective” congress in Harare last week, replacing the sacked Joice Mujuru who was sensationally accused of plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe.
Surprisingly, lickspittle State media such as the shamelessly pro-Zanu PF, Sunday Mail have in the last few days begun to check back embarrassingly on their murky claims that Mujuru planned to kill Mugabe.
Analyst Shephard Mntungwa said it was a mystery and “a great shame” that Mugabe, like many other African leaders, liked to speak “a good language” about Africa, but never “walked the talk”.
“The president talks a good game about Africa but like his counterparts on the rest of the continent never walks the talk. Thus, he is carted away to places such as Singapore and Malaysia for holidays and medical checkups, usually in secret.
“Very sadly too, many of these trips are disguised as official trips to stop citizens from scrutinising them.
“The question is, why can’t he go to Victoria Falls or Durban or Arusha for his holidays or for medical trips if we are to believe his tough rhetoric about Africa and African solidarity and Rennaissance?
“Surely, Africa cannot just be good to talk about and not to vacation in and get medical assistance in,” Mntungwa said.
Mugabe went on his annual vacation at least two weeks ahead of the usual schedule. In years gone by, he traditionally went on leave around December 28.
Mugabe, who is under European Union and American travel sanctions, has in recent years vacationed in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Mugabe also quietly left the country without any funfare, State newspaper pictures and ZBC video footages as is usually the case when he is travelling outside the country.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba was unreachable when the Daily News tried to solicit comment from him yesterday.