Mugabe savaged over Far East trip

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has once again come under heavy fire for taking his family on a long and expensive annual holiday to the Far East — and, as usual, shunning local tourism destinations.

Mugabe flew out of Zimbabwe on Tuesday night, accompanied by his family and a large contingent of aides, for his year-end jaunt which is fully-funded by long-suffering taxpayers.

According to the 2017 National Budget, the President’s Office was allocated a whopping $175 million, at a time that Zimbabwe’s collapsing public health sector — which has seen hospitals running out of drugs and potable water among other things — was once again overlooked as a priority area and got a substantially reduced vote.

It has been estimated that most of Mugabe’s overseas sojourns blow up at least $3 million per trip, with the nonagenarian having visited Singapore alone on more than 10 occasions in 2016.

Analysts and opposition figures who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said Mugabe seemingly “hates anything African”, as Zimbabweans had never been told that he was vacationing at home or in other tourist-friendly countries on the continent such as Malawi, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa and Mauritius.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC also said it was “immoral” that the nonagenarian should “even think” of taking a holiday at this time when Zimbabweans were suffering “untold economic pain” as a result of his continuing misrule.
Its spokesperson Obert Gutu, also said travelling abroad now appeared to be Mugabe’s way of “escaping from the problems he has created at home”.

“This is a colossal embarrassment to have the entire First Family and their in-laws flying more than 10 000km away for an extended holiday at State expenditure."

“Other leaders like President Jacob Zuma of South Africa are spending their holidays at their rural homes in Nkandla, KwaZulu Natal, but Mugabe can never spend his annual holidays at local tourist resorts such as the Victoria Falls, Kariba or Nyanga,” he said.

“Whilst more than 90 percent of Zimbabweans are going to experience a bleak and miserable Christmas holiday because they have got no money, Mugabe and his extended family will be blowing millions of State funds somewhere in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. This is tragic,” he added.

The spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Jacob Mafume, noted sarcastically that Mugabe “has been on holiday the whole year”, adding that he appeared to have no problem leaving ordinary citizens suffering under the weight of the myriad crises that he had triggered.

“The pretence that he is going for a holiday is as fake as the legend of Father Christmas itself. He needs to retire and allow Zimbabwe to recover,” Mafume said.

Before he was slapped with targeted sanctions, Mugabe used to go to the West for his long holidays, and was a regular visitor to the UK in particular.

On his way back from the Far East, the increasingly frail and ever globe-trotting nonagenarian will pass through Addis Ababa on January 22, 2017, for the 28th summit of the African Union (AU) — where the election of the new AU chairperson, to take over from South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will be held.

In his absence, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will act in his position.

Comments (2)

Instead of singing the same song which is becoming monotonous the opposition parties should be busy working at strategies to get rid of Mugabe. We are now past the stage of simply crying and blaming Mugabe who everyone knows will never listen to Zimbabweans. The fact that these opposition are so splintered and will never come together to offer a credible challenge to Mugabe is what people see of them before listening to their comments and utterances on news media. Yesterday they were off-side, shooting at Mnangagwa in an effort to stall his presidential ambitions before they have even moved an inch to dislodge Mugabe who has been sitting there for over 36 years. Opposition party leaders ought to be serious - ought to get rid of their Down`s syndrome - if ever they hope to defeat Mugabe and his Zanu-PF. History tells us armchair politicians and opportunists hardly make it to the top: there are always risks and sacrifices to be taken by anyone who hopes to lead a country.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 22 December 2016

Let's focus on the solution, and not the problem. The country obviously cannot afford to allocate $170 million per year to the Office of the President (about $40 million of which is spent on foreign travel). What is the solution?

david taylor - 22 December 2016

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