SW Radio Africa (London)

7 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Spends Weekend Partying in Malawi

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

President Robert Mugabe is back from his latest jaunt in Malawi where he spent the weekend taking part in that country's golden jubilee celebrations.

Mugabe left for Malawi on Saturday and returned Sunday after a luncheon with his host Malawian leader Peter Mutharika, according to the Malawi Voice newspaper.

The Zimbabwean leader was apparently the only foreign Head of State at the event to mark Malawi's 50 years of independence from British rule, contrary to State media reports that other leaders would also be attending.

"The closest to a foreign head of state, except for Mugabe, was Tanzania's Vice President Mohammed Garib Bilal, online news publication NewZimbabwe.com revealed on Sunday.

Addressing Malawians on Sunday, Mugabe hailed their maturity which he said is reflected in that country's political stability and its economic and infrastructural development.

Critics say if Mugabe stayed at home a bit more rather than jetting off at the slightest excuse, he would notice how his own unstable, immature and divisive 34-year-rule has completely destroyed the country.

Regular political commentator Larry King observed that Mugabe is so unconcerned about the welfare of Zimbabweans that he even fails to market the country as a potential investment destination while on these foreign travels.

"He travels a lot and is hardly at home and when he is around, he talks nonsense. He says nothing to promote the good of Zimbabwe and on his obscene travels he makes an idiot of himself.

"Telling the world to go to hell... He does not make any reference to the hell we Zimbabweans are in," King commented.

Some say Mugabe could be deliberately avoiding being in the country long enough to see the grim realities of the economic meltdown evidenced by shortages of water, electricity, medicines and cash.

Economist and political analyst Vince Musewe said in choosing to party while the country burns, Mugabe had yet again demonstrated that he is selfish and doesn't care.

"He is only interested in safeguarding his own interests and does not care about the thousands of Zimbabweans without homes or the millions without jobs some of whom have been driven out of the country by hardships.

"That is Mugabe and the reality that is ZANU PF misrule," Musewe told SW Radio Africa's The Zim We Want programme

Crisis in Zimbabwe chairperson Dewa Mavhinga told SW Radio Africa that Mugabe's trips are not in the best interests of Zimbabweans and should be capped.

"One reason why these numerous presidential trips should be limited is because each trip uses a lot of money. It is probably for that reason that the trips are so many, with every small opportunity converted into a trip abroad. It is because of monetary benefits derived from such trips.

"The best interests of Zimbabwe would require prioritisation and careful use of our limited resources to ensure better basic services delivery including clean water, health and education services," Mavhinga added.

According to a Treasury source, daily allowances for the presidential entourage and executive members can be anything between $5,000 and $15,000 per person depending on the region travelled to. The funds are not accounted for in the public accounts.

Staffers in the presidential teams use Mugabe's foreign visits to augment their salaries through hefty per diems, and this partly explains the huge delegation that accompanies him on these trips.

Last year on a five-day trip to the UN Summit in New York, Mugabe took with him a delegation of 80 officials at a huge cost to the country's failing economy.

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Mugabe and Mutharika in discussion during a luncheon at Mtunthama.

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