HARARE - Unflattering pictures of President Robert Mugabe and his family enjoying themselves to no end while holidaying in the Far East emerged at the weekend.
The pictures of the First Family luxuriating overseas were posted on Instagram at a time back home millions of people are enduring one of the country’s worst festive seasons ever — with no water, food and electricity.
But rather soberingly, in almost all of the pictures, Mugabe appears a little lost and confused about what is happening.
In some of them, he is even looking away from the camera with total disinterest.
It appeared that while the rest of the family was having loads of fun, Mugabe at 90, seemed to be deep in thought and not interested in anything, despite clear attempts by his controversial wife Grace and daughter Bona to make him feel comfortable.
Observers said yesterday that Mugabe had lost touch with the hardships that Zimbabweans were enduring daily while he blew millions of scarce dollars on his foreign jaunts.
This year the sparkle of Christmas and the rest of the festive season was lost to many in the country, with civil servants, who form the bulk of those still formally employed in Zimbabwe failing to get the promised 13th cheque.
The observers said the weekend pictures suggested that the First Family did not care much about the suffering of the people.
In the pictures, posted by Mugabe’s first son Robert Jnr on Instagram — a video and picture-sharing social platform — most of the family, except Mugabe, happily poses for the photos.
Grace — and sons Robert Jnr, Chatunga and Russell (from the first marriage) — along with daughter Bona and husband Simba Chikore, pose for the pictures, smiling contentedly in what appears to be an upmarket restaurant.
Asked by his friends about the location of the restaurant, Robert Jnr replied “Nadaman in Singapore! Next time you think of going to the Far East you should try it out.”
Nadaman is an expensive Japanese restaurant for the most affluent in Singapore. It reportedly only serves the rich and famous.
Analysts described Mugabe recently as “a double-faced leader” who loves to talk a tough pan-African language only when it is politically expedient to do so.
At the same time, the opposition said that Mugabe seemingly “hates anything African” as Zimbabweans had never been told that he was vacationing in tourist-friendly countries on the continent such as Malawi, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa and Mauritius.
In addition, the MDC also felt that it was immoral that the nonagenarian should “even think” of taking a holiday at this time while Zimbabweans were suffering “untold” economic pain resulting from Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s misrule.
Raymond Majongwe, the secretary general of Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said the government had abandoned its workers.
“We are planning to go on a strike because the government has abandoned us.
“Government should not forget that its workers are suffering and no wonder why the doctors went on strike.
“From the looks of things we won’t get our bonuses and this is sad.
But the biggest tragedy of it all is that government hasn’t come to us to tell explain what is happening,” Majongwe said.
So bad is the economic situation in the country that Tsvangirai has even likened Mugabe and Zanu PF to the Grinch that stole Christmas.