New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Only Foreign Head of State At Malawi Celebrations

Photo: KLisa Vintulla/Malawi News Agency
Mugabe and Mutharika in discussion during a luncheon at Mtunthama.

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe flew out to Malawi Saturday to attend the former British colony's Golden jubilee, even skipping the burial of national hero Stanley Sakupwanya who was a member of his Zanu PF's politburo.

But few Zimbabweans would know their leader was the only foreign Head of State in the world who attended the ceremony.

When Mugabe left Harare for Lilongwe on the eve of the celebrations Saturday, the state media claimed, "Several Heads of State and Government from SADC and beyond are expected to attend the Golden Jubilee Celebrations."

But what turned out to be several heads of State and government was in fact, the lonely figure of the 90-year-old leader. In fact, the closest to a foreign head of state except for Mugabe was Tanzania's Vice President Mohammed Garib Bilal.

Other world leaders with an interest in the rice producing country sent their juniors to the fete.

"Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is the only head of state who will be joining President Peter Mutharika and Malawians in celebrating the golden jubilee that will take place on Sunday in Lilongwe," Malawi's Nyasa Times reported Saturday.

"The octogenarian leader looked fit and well on arrival and was spotting a jovial mood."

President Mugabe, who has never missed an opportunity to fly out of the country, turned his back on the burial of the late national hero Stanley Urayayi Sakupwanya.

Mugabe easily delegated the task of leading mourners to Sakupwanya's burial to his vice, Joice Mujuru, something he is yet to do if it were for foreign assignments.

Even after he snubbed Mutharika's inauguration a month earlier, Mugabe did not resist the latest temptation to visit.

The veteran leader is under fire for failure to invent solutions to the country's sagging economy, something that has seen public servants having to wait for monies scrounged through taxes to receive their salaries.

Critics, among them his opponents, have chided the veteran leader for his costly foreign travels financed through Treasury.

Political analyst Charles Mangongerea said Mugabe, by continuously absenting himself from his troubled country, has virtually turned himself into a ceremonial President.

"I don't think he is running this country anymore, that's why he finds time to do such things," said Mangongera.

"He jumps on to every other little occasion that happens; he is always the first one to get there.

"I don't think he is still typical CEO of a country who will be inundated with the day to day running of the economy and the state affairs.

"I think he is more comfortable out there, away from the problems of the country."

MDC-T politician, Job Sikhala recently said the Zimbabwean leader risked a coup through his endless foreign jaunts.

Mugabe's foreign travels have brought good fortune to him as a family though, it would seem.

His only daughter and first born child, Bona, according to Grace Mugabe, was snatched by a pilot husband, right in the sky, during one of the first family's foreign excursions.

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