via Mugabe flies out yet again – DailyNews Live 29 March 2015
HARARE – Unfazed by growing criticism by Zimbabweans about his costly foreign travels, President Robert Mugabe left for Tanzania yesterday — after spending less than 48 hours in the country after his trip to Algeria — and will also proceed to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from there.
Mugabe was invited to Tanzania to speak at a symposium in Arusha last night, that was organised by the youth league of that country’s ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi.
He is expected to proceed to Addis Ababa today where he will attend the 18th summit of the Community for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) which is taking place there until Tuesday.
As usual, Mugabe was seen off at Harare International Airport by vice presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, several Cabinet ministers and service chiefs.
Mnangagwa will be the acting president in his absence.
Since the beginning of the year, Mugabe who is also the ceremonial chairperson of both Sadc Mugabe flies 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.
The latest visit comes hard on the heels of a four-day State visit to Algeria that he undertook last week, which followed other sojourns in the past fortnight alone to Singapore, Japan and Namibia.
Mugabe’s frequent jaunts, whose benefits are still to be seen, have gobbled millions of dollars this year alone, with his spokesperson George Charamba refusing to shed light on the trips yesterday.
“I find it completely unprofitable to talk to you about presidential trips. You have already made up your minds and I do not see any reason of engaging you,” Charamba said.
Curiously, Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha pleaded ignorance about Mugabe’s latest costly trip.
“I am not aware of the trip. Check with me on Monday,” Bimha said.
Since his return from the Far East in January where he had gone on two-month-long State-funded holiday with his family, Mugabe has flown out of Zimbabwe at least seven more times.
Some of the trips were to Zambia, where he attended the inauguration of that country’s new leader Edgar Lungu, who replaced the late Michael Sata, who died last year; before he left for Ethiopia for the African Union summit, where he was elected the organisation’s ceremonial chairperson.
And after barely spending three days in Harare on his return from Ethiopia, Mugabe flew out again to Asia where he went to collect his ailing wife Grace, who was admitted at a private hospital.
The president then stayed home less than two weeks thereafter and went to South Africa for the Sadc Troika summit on Lesotho, in his capacity as the regional bloc’s chair.
Last week, Mugabe was first in Singapore, and then in Japan for the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction where he spent a week.
Upon his return from the Far East last Thursday, Mugabe spent barely a day in the country before flying to Namibia to witness the inauguration of that country’s new President, Hage Geingob.
On Tuesday last week, Mugabe was on another flight to Algeria on a four-day State visit, which government officials said was meant to cement relations with the North African country.
Reports say the president is set to fly out early next month to South Africa on another three-day State visit, before travelling to the AU headquarters in Ethiopia and then to India.