HARARE – Government splurged more than $14 million on foreign and domestic travel in the first three months of the year.
Figures gleaned from the Consolidated Revenue Fund indicate that while President Robert Mugabe’s administration had budgeted $5 194 000 in travel, it overshoot the budget, spending $12 959 258 on foreign trips in the period under review.
On foreign trips alone, it blew $4 588 990 in January, $ 4 250 630 in February and $4 119 638 in March. These travel expenses related mostly to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
On domestic trips alone, government spent $1 229 246 in the period under review. This comes as government is struggling to pay civil servants and is also facing drug shortages in major hospitals.
Opposition parties accuse government of failing to prioritise critical issues such as health and education, instead deploying scarce resources towards domestic and foreign travel.
“The Zanu PF regime, right from …Mugabe himself, is riddled with gross financial indiscipline. These people cannot even successfully manage a tuck shop. This is the major reason why the regime has already spent $14 million on travel in just three months. Most of these foreign trips are utterly and completely unnecessary,” the mainstream MDC spokesperson, Obert Gutu said.
“They (trips) don’t add value at all to brand Zimbabwe. Mugabe literally hops from one aircraft to another…He has clocked more flying hours than an average commercial pilot at Air Zimbabwe, for instance. This is completely ridiculous and unacceptable. This regime is a renegade, bankrupt and spendthrift outfit.
“They don’t give a damn about the continued suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans. Just imagine how many essential drugs and medicines could be bought for our public hospitals and clinics if the sum of $14 million was allocated to the ministry of Health?…These people don’t have a conscience at all,” Gutu added.
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi, said government was not concerned about the current social and economic problems.
“It is now clear that the Zanu PF regime is now on a mopping spree and will leave nothing for the citizens including those who voted them into power. We have an irresponsible government that does not prioritise food, accommodation and health for citizens, a government that has no respect for the taxpayer.
“The people in office today are possessed with travelling demons and are not keen to learn from other regional leaders like Tanzania’s John Pombe Magufuli,” Chihwayi said.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, said governments want to break the world record on travelling.
“Our government wants to beat Vasco da Gama in travelling and exploring the known world.
“The fascination with travelling to other countries is unbelievable and childlike in nature. The fact that they spend much-needed foreign currency to sleep in conferences is just a sheer waste of resources,” he said.
Last year, Mugabe’s globe-trotting saw government spending $36 million on foreign and domestic travel in the first 10 months.
The OPC pumped $34,4 million on foreign trips and $1,2 million on domestic travel in the 10-month period.
For the whole of last year, Mugabe spent $53 million on foreign trips.