Harare – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has begun his annual leave and will spend part of it in the Far East with his family, despite a myriad of economic problems facing the country.
Mugabe, who has used every available opportunity to fly out of the troubled nation, left Harare for Singapore on Tuesday night with a chartered flight for his month-long vacation. He is expected back in the country at the end of January 2017.
His spokesperson George Charamba said: “The leave shall be interspersed with official engagements, including one which is related to the African Union.”
Mugabe will be joining other leaders of the continental body who are expected to convene in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from January 27 to 31 for the grouping’s 28th Summit.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party slammed Mugabe, who often travels with a large entourage of security aides, for embarking on what it called an “expensive and unnecessary vacation”.
Bleak and miserable Christmas
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu accused Mugabe of spending lavishly when most of the southern African country’s citizens are facing “grinding poverty, jobs cuts, cash shortages and hunger”.
Said Gutu: “This is a colossal embarrassment to have the entire First Family and their in-laws flying more than 10 000km away for an extended holiday at state expenditure. Other leaders like President Jacob Zuma of South Africa are spending their holidays at their rural homes in Nkandla, KwaZuluNatal, but Mugabe can never spend his annual holidays at local tourist resorts such as the Victoria Falls, Kariba or Nyanga.”
Mugabe is known for his numerous foreign travels with his young lavish spending wife Grace.
Instead of going on holiday, Gutu said Mugabe should have remained home to deal with cash shortages, unemployment, among other problems facing the majority of Zimbabweans.
“Mugabe has always been consumed by xenomania; he enjoys travelling to foreign lands. Whilst more than 90% of Zimbabweans are going to experience a bleak and miserable Christmas holiday because they have got no money, Mugabe and his extended family will be blowing millions of state funds somewhere in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. This is tragic. God help us!” added Gutu.
But the ruling Zanu-PF information and publicity secretary for South Africa branch, Morelife Mapeture, told News24 that after working hard for the whole year, the nonagenarian leader needs to rest.