Mugabe under fire over India debacle

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s botched trip to an insignificant cultural festival in India earlier this week continues to raise dust, with political opponents ganging up on the increasingly frail nonagenarian and calling on him to call it quits in his own interest, that of his family and the nation.

The ever globe-trotting 92-year-old was forced to abandon his much-criticised excursion to a low-key music and dance bash being hosted in New Delhi, which even the Indian leadership, including the South Asian giant’s president, Pranab Mukherjee, was not intending to attend.

In addition, not a single noteworthy national or international leader, or prominent personality for that matter, has been reported to be attending the gig.

At the same time, government insiders claimed in briefings to the Daily News yesterday that Mugabe and his typically huge travelling party had once again gobbled “$3 million on this non-event” — at a time that the Zimbabwe economy is dying and the government itself has said it can hardly meet its obligations, including paying its workers.

“Each time the president travels on these useless trips he takes with him a huge team and they use more than $3 million of badly-needed funds in hiring an Air Zimbabwe plane, other logistical costs and the allowances of the travelling party,” a miffed insider said.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said on Wednesday that the “cancellation” of the trip had been necessitated by the late communication from the organisers of the festival, pointing to inadequacies in protocol and security arrangements around the event.

But irate opposition groups noted sarcastically yesterday that Mugabe’s “dodgy holiday” to India had come just two weeks after his “extravagant” birthday celebrations in Masvingo, which is said to have gobbled up $800 000, at a time that the country was reeling from drought and people were dying needlessly in public hospitals due to shortages of drugs.

“This is a complete and total embarrassment for the Zanu PF regime. How a whole president would find it fit and proper to fly all the way to New Delhi to attend a dubious cultural festival that even the host president of India has decided to boycott, simply boggles the mind,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

He added that the fact that Mugabe had still wanted to go there showed that there was something wrong with the Foreign Affairs department, as the nonagenarian had been accompanied by Foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi in “this embarrassing jaunt”.

“A thorough due diligence exercise should have been undertaken . . .  Why would he (Mugabe) leave Harare on a Monday to attend an event that is supposed to take place in New Delhi on Friday? Last time I checked, a direct flight from Harare to New Delhi takes less than 10 hours,” he said.

The Welshman Ncube-led MDC said Mugabe was surrounded by “a useless, lazy and ineffective deadwood Cabinet” which had failed to offer the nonagenarian proper advice on matters of national interest.

“If all Zimbabweans, including those in his Cabinet were to speak candidly and decisively, truthfully and frankly, honestly and boldly, they would admit that Zimbabwe cannot afford another day with this man in office. Mugabe’s gallivanting all over the globe, and spending on himself is robbing  Zimbabweans of freedom and opportunity by putting their priorities last. While the government has said that there is no money, the president’s spending this year alone could have made a huge difference to different sectors of the economy.

“Mugabe needs to take just one leaf out of President John Magufuli’s book of a servant leadership and retain what little dignity he has left,” spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said.

The newly-elected Magufuli has banned all but essential foreign travel, and restricted first and business class travel for all officials except the country’s president, vice president and prime minister.

Chihwayi added that it was not okay for Mugabe to “take off on the spur of the moment jaunts halfway across the world” for a cultural event when Zimbabwe was burning from its worsening myriad crises.

“At some point, Zimbabweans will need to rise up against such kind of leadership that does more harm than good. As MDC, we condemn strongly this flagrant display of wasteful expenditure by Mugabe,” he said.

Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party described the trip as an embarrassment to the country.

“The trip proves that Mugabe is not only a national security threat, but has now become a danger to himself and the whole nation,” PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume said.

“He can no longer tell the difference between an international summit and a street carnival with naked dancing women. The political opportunists have their claws in his back and they are playing him like a puppet, while they keep telling him that he is very wise. He reminds me of the story of the naked emperor. Unfortunately, there is no one brave enough in Zanu PF to tell him that he is naked. He is now parading all over the world in his naked glory. The nation is doomed,” Mafume said.

Comments (9)

Our President is feeling a bit lonely and isolated right now and is desperately seeking friends hence all his unnecessary and totally useless trips abroad. He now knows that he is hugely unpopular within his own country, even with members within his own party. So he tries to escape this pressure and using his privileged position just travels abroad regardless of the cost or consequences.. Some day soon this is going to stop, mark my words.

Phukit - 11 March 2016

Mugabe and ZANU PF CABINET MINISTERS HAVE NO SOULS. NO FEELINGS FOR THEIR FELLOW CITIZEN Mugabe and ZANU PF CABINET MINISTERS HAVE NO SOULS. NO FEELINGS FOR THEIR FELLOW CITIZEN Mugabe and ZANU PF CABINET MINISTERS HAVE NO SOULS. NO FEELINGS FOR THEIR FELLOW CITIZEN Mugabe and ZANU PF CABINET MINISTERS HAVE NO SOULS. NO FEELINGS FOR THEIR FELLOW CITIZEN Mugabe and ZANU PF CABINET MINISTERS HAVE NO SOULS. NO FEELINGS FOR THEIR FELLOW CITIZEN Mugabe and ZANU PF CABINET MINISTERS HAVE NO SOULS. NO FEELINGS FOR THEIR FELLOW CITIZEN

amina - 11 March 2016

I do believe that we have young and strong leaders but it will be wise know to turn these vibrant words into action or practice lets not fight him with words only pasi na Mugabe zvachose

mukanya - 11 March 2016

munoona kukwegura hakuna kunyangara asi zvinoda kuti uchiziwe zvekuita, sekutsvaka nzvimbo imweyo yekugara usina pressure yezvakawanda, hama dzako dzichikumaira, uchiita zvekusarudza wega kuti ndinoda kumbodai kana kuti kuenda kwakati. Haikona izvi!! zuro ndizuro wawerenga speech isiyo nikisi kuzviona. pacongress pedze waakuti pasi nezanu pf, dzokeyi woti tsvangirayi ekenge ahwinha ne72%. uku paairport wakambobata mbewa paya. kuindia kwakare ikoko wakazochingurwa naModi watadza kukwira pastage! nhai dare hamuoniwo kuti zvati nyanyeiyi pamunhu hwani??

SaManyika Chaiye - 11 March 2016

The plane did not go to India but it went to Singapore where it is grounded up to today. Check flightradar24 for flight UM1.

mwanahidza - 11 March 2016

Weduwe regai vakuru vanoiswa rimwe ropa kuSingapore. Kana iye Grace anoda kunoiswawo zvanoda kuiswa nechikwata chake apo mukuru anenge achionekwa vanachiremba. Sure president wenyika kuyenda kupungwe neAir Zim...ndaseka zvangu...Grace I salute you

gamuchirayi - 11 March 2016

I am one of those who helped ZANU PF and Mugabe to win the 1980 elections and when he flew to Zambia soon afterwards, we were confident that he was up to some national arrangements that would be of advantage to the new country. Later, when he went flying to many international destinations, we still had the mistaken belief that he was working for the people of the new country but it dawned on us that the man was eating up our money for nothing when the land question remained unaddressed and opposition party members were harmed while some were killed. News about what was really going on with government troops and dissidents was not given to us in full if not completely distorted, people began disappearing and one party state ideas were espoused relentlessly. Then Mr. Geof Nyarota exposed a Willovale scandal and later, independent newspapers were became favourable to readers but were rebuked and later efforts to kill them were made. It became increasingly clear that the government was not for the people but for a few. Cadres were rewarded for dirty work against opposing voices and speaking against the establishment in whatever small way became a brave act, risking arrest and disappearance. We came to know that Mugabe had no peoples' interest at heart at independence, and all these money spending trips come as no surprise to the nation. We were misled into the belief that we had been liberated when in actual fact, it would have been much better if we had remained with the colonial rulers.

Mr Dete - 11 March 2016

I feel pity for our President, but the people to be blamed are his bootleakers who cannot even open up their mouths to say President this trip is not worth attending. I can imagine being an Executive Director surrounded by managers who always say yes to what you suggest. Then you have to sense something wrong. The President has been lied to and at times never given a clue by his too many ministers who are only there to benefit while he is still in power. How can a reasonable father spent 3.8 million in two weeks time while all the 14 million plus children are suffering? Guys enough is enough begin to tell the president kuti izvi hazvichaiita. We want men of that courage now for Zimbabwe to come back to normal .

Chihwemukudu - 12 March 2016

all you fellas are jealous coz you have never been on a plane and never get a chance to claim travel&subsistence at your places of employ,as you know in zimbabwe other cultures are sidelined and little known of them except the shona culture,the president could have been well exposed to other cultures in india where upon return home he could have elavated other cultures eg: nambya,tonga,venda,kalanga shangaan,to the same level as shona culture but you fellas miss the point,shame on you

truth - 12 March 2016

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