Millions spent on ED's trips

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s penchant for travelling in state-of-the-art airplanes has come at a huge cost to the taxpayer, thus undermining his government’s ‘austerity for prosperity’ mantra.

Since coming to power in November 2017, Mnangagwa has travelled over 25 trips.

In nearly 16 months, he has been to countries such as Russia, Rwanda, Belarus, Guinea, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Switzerland, Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Ethiopia, Botswana, Mozambique, Mauritania, Tanzania, Botswana, the United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo and China, among others.

A look into Mnangagwa’s travel since he became president gives a picture of his extravagant expenditure.

His office has been chartering the Comlux Boeing 767-200ER (Boeing Business Jet or BBJ), which charges in the region of US$50 000 per hour in flight time.

On average, the trips are about five hours per leg for his foreign trips on these large VIP jets.

When he travelled to Eurasia recently, Mnangagwa chartered the Boeing 787 Dreamliner VIP jet from Deer Jet and Asian VIP Charter Company.

Charter companies charge for flights on an hourly basis, based on what they call Total Time, which is basically the period during which an aero-plane flies with actual passengers other than just the crew.

There are also Repositioning legs, which is the flight time to and from pick up and or drop off airports without passengers.

There are also Short legs, which refer to time allotted by the individual operator for any given leg, as well as Taxi Time, which is the amount of time on the ground before each take off and after landing.

In just basic flight time, Mnangagwa’s trips have cost the taxpayer a whopping $6,68 million, without factoring in the operator’s charges to ferry the president in Zimbabwe.

This figure is for only 22 hours flight time to Europe round-trip at a rate of $74 000 per hour.

Include his travel in Africa, and East Asia, his bill can easily hit jaw-dropping figures considering that Mnangagwa’s other trips across the world constitute about 90 hours at $50 000 per hour.

His travel is, however, said to be sponsored by some wealthy businesspeople in Zimbabwe, and handled by Mary Chiwenga, the wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

Nonetheless, his immoderate expenditure is ironic.

Last year, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube announced some stringent measures aimed at reducing government expenditure.

Among some of the measures introduced to curtail spending being a five percent salary cut for the president, his deputies, top government officials and parastatal bosses.

The measures also included retiring all civil servants above 65 years of age and retrenching over 3 000 youth officers.

Earlier in October last year, Ncube introduced a two percent tax on every electronic transaction between $10 and $10 000 to fund government costs. 

Observers argue that while these measures are noble, they are going to waste owing to Mnangagwa’s insatiable desire to travel large.

Analysts canvassed by the Daily News on Sunday said government’s runaway spending could at least be reduced if the president uses local airlines and channels the money to depleted hospitals and schools.

The health sector in the country has virtually been destroyed by years of plunder and corruption with the government failing to revitalise the sector.

It is therefore being argued that the President’s Office could save a lot of money by making use of commercial flights and redirecting the savings towards critical areas of education, health and providing safety nets to the poor.

Rashweat Mukundu, an analyst, said the sad part about Mnangagwa’s continued hiring of expensive jets on his many trips outside the country is a clear indication of his lack of faith and belief in the austerity measures that government is pushing on citizens. 

Mukundu sees a consistent message from him that economic recovery is going to be hard and that the public must tighten its belts, but does not see the tightening of belts from him and his government.

“…this is a clear indication that there is a lack of prioritisation of key issues that he needs to address. We even noticed that this hiring of expensive jets is coming at a time when the health sector is struggling, we have had strikes from doctors, nurses, there is a threat of strike from civil servants, the government cannot afford to meet some of the basic needs of the people, yet we are wasting so much money on these foreign trips on very expensive and luxurious jets,” said Mukundu. 

“We have seen the president of Tanzania John Magufuli travelling on Air Tanzania, last year we saw South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa travelling on South African Airways, the president of Malawi travels on Malawi Airlines and we wonder why our own president cannot cut this huge burdensome cost of hiring all these expensive jets by travelling with commercial airlines”. Pessimists believe the measures were actually meant to hoodwink the general suffering public, while those in high offices continue to live opulent lives, albeit in a sea of poverty.

Mnangagwa has failed to take a leaf from his African counterparts such as Magufuli.  

Three years ago, Magufuli decided to embark on not so popular austerity measures in an effort to curb government expenditure by flying on commercial flights when traveling to other nations on State visits.

He would only book in business class on long haul flights with an aid or two, whereas the rest of his team would fly in economy class or the main cabin.

The austerity measures that were implemented by Magafuli have created funding that helped in the re-establishment of Air Tanzania which recently acquired the modern wide body Boeing 787 aircraft for its long haul flights and as well as the ultra-new Airbus 220 for its short to medium range routes.

This same formula can be used to resuscitate the moribund Air Zimbabwe, if the money is not decided to be used in more important issues of education and health.

MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the powers-that-be have a parasitic relationship with the Zimbabwean taxpayer whereby in typical vampire State-style they suck the life out of Zimbabweans.

He said the problem is that Mnangagwa is seeing the presidency as a reward for his personal struggles to get there. 

“He is seeing it as a culmination of his personal goals. He is there to fulfil all the desires that he wanted to achieve when he was not yet president and those desires were to visit as many countries as possible, probably eat as much food as possible, wear as many suits as possible, drive as many cars as possible, make his family rich and probably his friends,” he said. 

“It is never about serving the people, it is never about doing work, it is never about uplifting the lives of Zimbabweans. If anything, anything that uplifts the life of Zimbabweans and does not make him richer, it is quickly abandoned. They are no longer looking at what Zimbabweans need, but they are looking for what they need, so they are now driving in better cars, getting into better aeroplanes, getting into better houses.”

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    Comments (13)

    Were we really expecting this buffoon to act any differently from Mugabe? They're both looters who think the govt purse is their own personal pocket. Imagine flying to India for treatment. That's looting.

    Moe Syszlack - 24 February 2019

    Bob and ED are like the identical twins. Both are ruthless, greedy, selfish and absolutely shameless. Only a very naive person can expect the crocodile to live up to an empty rhetoric that he seem to be uttering. Both zanu pf functionaries belong in the Hague.

    Ken Sharpe - 24 February 2019

    Angiboni okubi...I US$6Mn eyomnyaka wonke I right...nxa ingayedlula lapo kumele ebhadale yedwa. In fact u president can afford imali yonke leyo nge bhizinesi lakhe.

    Mvundla kangisoze ngunike - 24 February 2019

    If you want to know witch, anyone who supports, vote for zanu pf is.

    Kufandada - 25 February 2019

    Zanu PF was a Revolutionary Party that lost its soul. Today , it is very difficult to separate Zanu PF from a typical criminal organisation run by very powerful selfish people.

    Beaton Nyarabuze - 25 February 2019

    It looks like ED is the ONLY President without a Private Jet and the travel costs are considered modest in VIP circles. Daily News PLEASE Inform readers better, NOT just being one sided coz its ED. DJ Tiesto travels with a jet that costs US$8K an hour with NO special security clearances, what more a Country President? Dont Just hate people then write bad stuff.

    Nyandoro - 25 February 2019

    Yisikhathi sendlala kumele ligcine okuncane elilakho....lingacupha kakhulu lisiya fihla emazweni akulunganga. Yikubulala ilizwe , abakhokheli abahle kabathathi beshiya kufile. kumele lizwanane labantu ukuthi lihlale kuhle nxa selipumulile.

    Ilizwe elihle - 25 February 2019

    In as much as you may want to preach hate for our President, only those in mademon chaiwo party will react positively to your rubbish. You are increasingly becoming the worst daily nonsense. Only idiots like moe syszlack and company believe in your hate crusade.

    shunguhadziurayi - 26 February 2019

    ED is a very nervous unsettled Head of State who is in a very lonely precarious position where he ONLY feels safe when above the clouds in a private jet. He is constantly reshuffling his security details vehicles as well as residence a telltale sign that the man is unsettled while his hangers on friends and family will take advantage of the security upgrades to acquire property and wealth a scheme brought to the fore by Jacob Zuma. Collectively they all think they did Zimbabweans a huge favour by partaking on the armed struggle so citizenry are indebted to them forever. As citizens we are also equally to blame for accepting these terrorists as liberation heroes.

    Sinyo - 26 February 2019

    Mnangagwa travels on business that is budgeted for just like any other worker traveling on company business . He has to meet peole to work on the country's economy . Money has to be spent to generate money . Do you expect the president to travel for free ? You are simply running out of news .

    Hayibo - 26 February 2019

    Hayibo, a company that has a CEO who goes on luxury holidays before paying worker their salaries is a disaster and doomed workers will just say enough is enough one day.

    Widzo - 26 February 2019

    A closer look at ED will tell you that most of the heinous acts of brutality that were perpetrated on innocent citizens from the days of gukurahundi,murambatsvina,june 27 and the rejection of defeat by Mugabe in 2008 elections were the brainchild of none other than ED .The guy has improved the art of administering torture and pain on his enemies,real or perceived ruthlessly.For him,most of the population that resides in urban areas are his enemies on account they always stand in his way in carrying on with his ruthless dictatorship.His malicious behaviour towards citizens of this country is totally devoid of any element of humanity.With his kind of thinking,he probably want to visit as many countries as possible in his short stint so that he would have tales to tell his grandchildren on how good life was when he was president.He is not as sincere as he wants people to believe.He is the reason why Mugabe employed dirty tricks in most of his dealings with those that did not subscribe to his evil ways.This country will never get out from its doldrums under a Zanu pf president.As it stands,whoever will succeced ED will try to out do his predecessor by spending as much as possible and by having as many bootlickers as possible.Thats the zanu pf way of running a country.

    janana wa Bikaz madhogodhogo - 27 February 2019

    ...these travels are sponsored by wealthy Zimbabweans...….!! They must be the ultimate thieves of this country, paying no taxes, changing Bonds for dollars at one to one. They are the type of people we have to be afraid of. They are the ones who, ultimately, are destroying Zimbabwe.

    Is that so? - 28 February 2019

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