via Mugabe clocks 220 000km flying – DailyNews Live 6 July 2015 by Bridget Mananavire
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe, a serial traveller now dubbed “Visiting Leader” by some of his political detractors, is expected to embark on another long overseas sojourn this week — this time to the United States for a summit on Ebola — as the nonagenarian continues to break national flying records in terms of total mileage travelled.
Observers pointed out last night that by the time Mugabe returns from New York, he would have completed more than 22 trips abroad since the beginning of the year, having travelled more than 220 000 kilometres during this short period — far more than many other leaders will manage throughout their tenures in power.
His political detractors also say that the nonagenarian’s “useless” travels are needlessly gobbling up millions of dollars per trip, at a time that government coffers are dry due to his administration’s gross mismanagement of the economy and the corruption of his lieutenants.
It has been said that each time Mugabe travels, such a single trip blows up more than $2 million, through the “hiring” of an Air Zimbabwe plane, as well as “allowances” for him and the large entourages that accompany him.
Because of the pending New York trip, a destination that is in the belly of some of Mugabe’s fiercest critics on account of Zimbabwe’s poor human rights record, the USA, this week’s Cabinet meeting has been pushed to today instead of the usual Tuesday.
Unfazed by growing criticism by Zimbabweans about his costly travels, the president will be leaving for New York — after spending less than 48 hours in the country — having returned from South Africa at the weekend where he attended a summit on the Lesotho crisis.
Mugabe’s trip to South Africa last week meant that he has now been to Pretoria four times over the past six months alone.
Government officials refused to confirm to the Daily News when and whether Mugabe was travelling to the US, with presidential spokesperson George Charamba claiming that he had not heard anything about his boss’s scheduled trip.
“I didn’t hear that. Go back to the person who told you,” Charamba said curtly.
Since the beginning of the year, Mugabe who is also the ceremonial chairperson of both Sadc and the African Union (AU), has spent more time in the air or in foreign lands than he has done in his own country, which is faced with mounting political and economic problems.
Mugabe’s frequent jaunts, whose benefits are still to be seen, have gobbled up millions of dollars, with the United States Department of State recently recommending that Mugabe’s budget be made public in the department’s recent fiscal transparency report.
“On the youth side, Matiza’s pair Kelvin Mutsvairo won the election with a wide margin, polling 4 436 against Danny Mutyembizi who polled 1 364 votes,” Mutodi said — adding unequivocally that Matiza enjoyed support from First Lady Grace Mugabe, Mnangagwa and Local Government minister and Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo.
“Matiza had the support of Vice President Mnangagwa, party administration secretary and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe, as well as the masses who came out in large numbers to bury the Ray Kaukonde type of leadership with a tendency to mislead the masses and align them to factions fighting a bitter war to succeed President Robert Mugabe,” he said.
The provincial chairmanship became vacant last year when Ray Kaukonde was ousted from the position for his alleged links to Mujuru, amid other claims that he was also promoting factionalism in the province.
Kasukuwere dissolved the Kaukonde-led provincial executive late last year, replacing it with a 15-member interim executive headed by Aeneas Chigwedere, that ran the party’s affairs until the weekend’s provincial elections.
A provincial party official told the Daily News yesterday the current restructuring exercises in the provinces were “definitely taking factional dimensions”, as senior national party officials pushed for their allies to assume influential positions.
“The struggle to control the provinces is part of the succession fight. Remember one only needs nomination by at least two provinces and then he/she can contest a national post under a secret ballot during the party’s congress. So you see that provinces play a major role in the succession matrix,” he said.
The fight for the control of provinces was evident in Harare where Kasukuwere and Chombo clashed over the June 10 Harare East by-election.
But Kasukuwere appeared to have had the last laugh as he managed to boot out interim Harare chairman Godwills Masimirembwa and beleaguered Youth League leader Godwin Gomwe.
In the meantime, Kasukuwere, a former Youth and Indigenisation minister and now Water minister, is set to face more pressure as he appears in Parliament this week to explain what has been described as “murky” multi-million dollar empowerment deals that were handled by a private firm during his tenure in his former ministry.
This comes as the country’s largest civic society group, the Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition, released a report on its probe into Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) and the alleged abuse of the Youth Fund: Kurera/Ukondla.
Kasukuwere and the National Indigenisation Economic and Empowerment Board (Nieeb) stand accused of unilaterally appointing a private equity firm, Brainworks Capital, to do consultancy work in deals involving mining giants Zimplats, Unki and Blanket among others.
Nieeb has already admitted to a parliamentary committee chaired by feisty Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator, Mayor Justice Wadyajena — said to be a close confidante of Mnangagwa — that Brainworks were handed the consultancy without going to tender.
But Kasukuwere sympathisers see the re-emergence of the probe as politically-motivated, accusing Wadyajena of targeting him as part of a grand scheme to silence the Mount Darwin South MP in the brutal Zanu PF factional succession wars in which the youthful minister and the G40 are said to be key players.
Apart from the Brainworks Capital saga, serious questions have been raised about the administration of the Youth Fund, which was abused by Zanu PF youths. A parliamentary hearing on the Fund last year unearthed the rampant abuse.