BY OBEY MANAYITI
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has come under fire for using expensive chartered flights at a time when the majority of Zimbabweans are wallowing in poverty.
Mnagagwa on Friday flew to Ethiopia for the African Union (AU) summit on a private jet.
Last month Mnangagwa used a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner for his trip to Eurasia amid reports that he blew US$25 million for the four-nation journey that took him to Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
He was forced to return home before embarking on the last leg of his trip to Davos, Switzerland, after mounting criticism over the handling of the January 14 protests by the army.
The MDC Alliance yesterday said Mnangagwa’s use of hired private jets showed that he did not care about the suffering of Zimbabweans, who are reeling from an economic crisis.
“Mnangagwa has once again demonstrated his lack of care for the mounting economic woes in Zimbabwe,” the party’s deputy spokesperson Bekithemba Mpofu said in a statement.
“He once again flew in a hired Swiss Dreamliner, which will cost the fiscus millions. When flying business class, it would have cost less than $30 000.
“He flies out in the middle of a crisis, teachers are on strike and the government has failed to even communicate a plan to both the civil servants and concerned parents.
“Broadly, the economy continues to fail, fuel queues have resurfaced, there are serious bread and cooking oil shortages while the prices continue to spike.
“These shortages are attributed to the unavailability of foreign currency much needed for the imports yet Mnangagwa always has cash to fly in and out.”
Mpofu said the money spent by top government officials on endless foreign trips should be used to revive crumbling infrastructure.
A pressure group calling itself Concerned Citizens wrote to the AU saying African leaders must exert pressure on Mnangagwa to address the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
“[President] Emmerson Mnangagwa is gallivanting all over the world on the best available leased jets,” he said.
“The environment is risky for citizens. Zimbabwe is not open and free for its own people and not even for foreign business investment.
“Zimbabweans in the diaspora cannot even consider investing in their country because of the political and economic instability and the brutality of the regime against the citizens.”
Transport minister Biggie Matiza yesterday said he did not know anything about Mnangagwa’s travel arrangements.
“I’m not aware of that. Actually, I was out of town and I am not aware of that,” he said.
Mnangagwa’s predecessor Robert Mugabe also had a penchant for expensive foreign trips, but always used Air Zimbabwe planes.