Zimbabwe: President's Foreign Trips Explained

Photo: The Herald
President Emmerson Mnangagwa stands at attention as Zimbabwe's national anthem is played by a Guard of Honour mounted for him by the Russian military in Moscow. With Mnangagwa is Russia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (the Middle East and Africa) Bogdanov Mikhail Leonidovich.
26 February 2019

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa will continue travelling abroad as part of his re-engagement efforts and his trips must not be assessed from a cost perspective, but from benefits accrued, his office has said.

In an interview with Star FM last night, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Mr George Charamba said diplomacy does not come cheap.

Mr Charamba is the presidential spokesperson.

He was responding to queries from some quarters on the essence of President Mnangagwa's foreign trips.

"There are certain costs which we have to incur. In any case, let us not forget that diplomacy does not come cheap," said Mr Charamba.

He said some costs were not avoidable and it was about time Zimbabweans realised it.

"(They) will continue to gobble for the simple reason that when the President is taking on an assignment like engagement and re-engagement, promoting Zimbabwe as an investment destination, that is a spending item. Let us not make any qualms about it. Money will be spent to make sure we sell Zimbabwe as an investment destination, to make sure we present Zimbabwe's case in respect of turning its mineral resources into exploitable resources that can lift the livelihoods of Zimbabweans. So when we talk austerity measures we do not close Zimbabwe as a shop," said Mr Charamba.

On why the President hires a plane when travelling abroad, Mr Charamba said "precisely because we have an ailing Air Zimbabwe".

He, however, said efforts were being made to resuscitate Air Zimbabwe.

"If you were following reports you will be aware we have taken receipt of planes from Malaysia and there are two planes that are on their way to Zimbabwe. Then when the President was in Ethiopia just recently, there is promise of an agreement Ethiopian Airlines and Air Zimbabwe to try and improve the Air Zimbabwe fleet level. There are lots of things that are happening except we are dealing with the policy of engagement and re-engagement which cannot wait. There are certain costs which we have to incur. In any case let us not forget that diplomacy does not come cheap," he added.

Mr Charamba said it was wrong to concentrate on costs of the President's foreign trips instead of benefits accrued.

"I think the misconception is the template that we concentrate on the costs and do not play up the benefits which are accruing to the economy. I will give you an example of the Eurasia trip by President. I can assure you in the next few months, the public transport system is going to change in a very dramatic way, thanks to that particular trip. Buses will come which will decongest our roads to ensure that there is safe travel and is also better productivity on the part of the workforce," he said.

"You will see the Darwendale platinum project will soon start in the process creating several jobs, several hundreds of jobs. That is creation of employment. You will see mega investment along the Zambezi River of an agricultural nature including agro-processing.

"You will see a picking up of tempo by way of mining activities in the country which is why we had Minister (Winston) Chitando as part of President's delegation. That is also why we had Minister (Perrance) Shiri representing the agriculture sector as part of the President's delegation."

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