6 March 2017

Zimbabwe: 'Nomad' Mugabe Leaves Zim Again, Aide Claims Trips Are 'Legitimate Spending'

President Robert Mugabe left Zimbabwe for Ghana on Monday, less than 24 hours after he got back home from a medical check-up in Singapore, state media reported.

The 93-year old president is attending Ghana's 60th independence anniversary celebrations as a "special guest" because of the two countries "close relations", Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told the Herald newspaper.

Mugabe - who's nicknamed the "visiting president" because of his frequent foreign trips - taught in Ghana in the late 1950s and his first wife Sally was Ghanaian.

Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba defended his boss from claims these trips are draining Zimbabwe's fiscus as the southern African country sinks deeper into economic crisis. Hospital doctors returned grudgingly to work at the weekend after a two-week strike over pay and conditions. But teachers from government schools were on Monday due to start a go-slow over the non-payment of bonuses from 2016. Tendai Biti, who served as Zimbabwe's finance minister during the 2009-13 coalition government, has previously claimed that Mugabe takes $4m inn hard cash with him each time he leaves the country.

Mugabe's spokesperson told the Herald: "It is a legitimate spending that makes nation states."

Online watchdog @ZimMediaReview said: "Mugabe has now left for Ghana for Independence celebrations there. Nomad."

Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza told the privately-owned Newsday that aides were "making a killing" out of the travel allowances they get when they accompany Mugabe.

"There are people making money out of having the old man in the air all the time," Mandaza was quoted as saying.

As for the ageing Zimbabwe president's state of health, he couldn't be fitter, his spokesperson said.

"He is so well that he beats even the youngest politicians," Charamba told the Herald.



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