Enact law to restrict Mugabe trips: Biti

HARARE - Opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Tendai Biti has said government must enact a law that restricts President Robert Mugabe from excessive foreign travel.

Mugabe’s voyages to international conferences such as the ongoing UN ocean summit have courted the ire of critics in cash-strapped Zimbabwe.

Last year, Mugabe embarked on at least 20 trips abroad, blowing $36 million in the first 10 months, according to government figures.

Writing on micro-blogging site Twitter, Biti said the economy was tanking while a seemingly indifferent Mugabe nonchalantly spends his time abroad, with struggling Zimbabweans picking up the tab.

In 2017 alone, including his current trip to the US, Mugabe has already visited 10 countries.

Just two weeks ago, he attended a UN conference on disaster risk reduction in Mexico.

“Self-evident, that there must be a law restricting public executive travel. He (Mugabe) behaves like a five-year-old,” Biti wrote on his Twitter page.

Biti, who was the Finance minister during the stability-inducing inclusive government era from 2009 to 2013, has said Mugabe’s handlers used to demand $3 million from Treasury each time he leaves the country.

Biti also told VOA that part of the problem was the entourage around Mugabe which makes a killing when they travel with him because their per diems increase.

“So, they deliberately create these trips, they deliberately make him a permanent resident of the skies in order to loot Zimbabwe,” Biti said.

“So, it is the bureaucracy around him which is also culpable, but you know, in other countries, the issue of per diems that are given to a head of State, must be returned when he comes, but one of the criminal things in Zimbabwe is that he (Mugabe) takes $4 million — he doesn’t bring it,” he said, adding he used to slash the expenditure on foreign trips to around $1 million.

The trips come at a time government is struggling to pay civil servants their monthly salaries, including last year’s 13th cheque.

Analysts have criticised Mugabe for attending the ongoing UN Ocean Conference, which seeks to promote partnerships such as between governments and businesses to address issues such as marine pollution, ocean acidification, and marine research.

“Given the subject matter of this conference & we’re landlocked, it’s like the husband also going to a kitchen party,” political analyst Alex Magaisa wrote on his Twitter account.

Another analyst Maxwell Saungweme told the Daily News: “That trip is meaningless and nonsensical. It’s not a priority for our country.”

Analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa, however, said Mugabe could take advantage of the visit to meet other influential leaders in a way that could benefit the country.

Comments (5)

How is that even possible? Zanu primary elections are rigged and the emerging candidate is always hand picked. Eve the zanu politburo is filled with hand picked appointees how will they challenge their benefactor? Mugabe is on his last legs its only a matter of time, its the next president you should worry about because he or she will be much younger than Mugabe but will inherit absolute power and will be ready to abuse state machinery from day one. That's where the fight should be to curtail the powers of an executive president, infact Zimbabwe might be best served having a Prime Minister who is head of government & home affairs and a president who is head of state & defense.

Galore - 8 June 2017

There is no how the president's trips can be cut at the moment. the government referred to in this case to eneact restritive laws which can reduce unnessary foreign trips is the same government which is promoting what's going on at the moment. Let's talk of removing the whole regime instead. From your experience Mr Biti. during your term as finance minister. I think you will agree with me that this was an on going culture. The only solution is to change the government. Things will be worse in Zimbabwe as long as ZANU -PF is still ruling.

Pythias Makonese - 8 June 2017

No need to worry Mr Biti one day is one day he will just kick the bucket in the air.

Edzai - 8 June 2017

Analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa, please explain how the trip benefits you? Are we trying to build an ocean?

Jonso - 9 June 2017

While Biti has a point in that the president's trips should be curtailed,he should also take note of the fact that the parliament that enacts such laws is now dominated by zanu pf ,thanks to the likes of him and the Welshman Ncubes of this world for forming splinter groups masquarading as opposition parties thereby reducing the number of opposition legislators in parliament.By now zanu pf could have been history if it were not for your poor judgements and power hungry.

Janana wa Bikaz - 9 June 2017

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