via Mugabe and entourage off to Nigeria – New Zimbabwe 27/05/2015
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will Thursday resume his globetrotting this time to Nigeria to attend the inauguration of the incoming leader scheduled for 29 May in Abuja.
Mohammadu Buhari’s inauguration comes after he won the recent elections, beating the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan.
Briefing journalists in Abuja last Friday the Chairman of the Media and Publicity Sub- Committee of the Presidential Inauguration Planning Committee, Chief Edem Duke, said over 50 presidents and heads of government across the globe will attend the inauguration.
Government sources in Harare told Newzimbabwe.com that Mugabe and his retinue are expected to fly out Thursday to be on time for the Friday event.
It was not clear in what capacity Mugabe will be travelling to Abuja as Presidential spokesperson George Charamba’s phone went unanswered.
But sources insisted Mugabe and his entourage would fly out Thursday.
Traditionally Mugabe keeps a large retinue which includes members of the CIO close security unit, state journalists, personal doctors, foreign affairs staff, body guards and other hangers on.
Travelling with Mugabe is many a government official’s wish because of the allowances and other privileges it comes with. In most cases, those that travel with the president enjoy the privilege of re-entering the country without being searched.
The trip to the oil rich West African nation comes soon after Mugabe returned from Botswana where he, as Sadc chairman, visited the regional body’s headquarters in Gaborone.
Before that, Mugabe was, alongside Raul Castro of Cuba, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Jacob Zuma of South Africa, among other notable leaders, hosted by Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow to mark 70 years of the defeat of the Nazis during the WW11.
Analysts say relations between Abuja and Harare may not be cordial after Nigeria last year summoned Zimbabwean envoy Stanley Kunjeku over Mugabe’s remarks which depicted Nigeria as a corrupt nation.
Commenting on graft then Mugabe said: “Are we now in Nigeria where you have to reach your pocket to get anything done?” He added: “We used to go to Nigeria and every time we went there we had to carry extra cash to corruptly pay for everything. You get into a plane in Nigeria and the crew keeps dilly dallying without taking off as they wait for you to pay them to take off.”
This forced a reaction from the permanent secretary in the Nigerian ministry of foreign affairs, Martin Uhomoibhi, who reportedly said Mugabe’s comment was “vitriolic and denigrating” and “un-statesmanly on Nigeria and Nigerians in general.”
Uhomoibhi said it was “very unkind and dishonorable” for a “sitting president of a brotherly country” to make such a remark. He said the comment was “unfortunate” considering that Nigeria has stood “shoulder to shoulder” with Zimbabwe since independence.
Mugabe’s comments came a few months after Harare rescinded an ultimatum for foreign small businesses operators, many of whom are Nigerians, to shut up shop and hand over their entities to locals.
Abuja has previously complained about the arrests of Nigerian nationals resident in Zimbabwe.
On Wednesday the state media appeared to take a dig at Abuja whith analysts saying fuel problems there were a vindication of Mugabe’s indigenisation policies.