Zimbabwe’s privately-owned Standard newspaper reports that President Robert Mugabe has so far allegedly travelled 140,000 kilometres this year, gobbling millions of dollars in the process in foreign trips that are largely viewed as not beneficial to the southern African nation currently experiencing serious economic challenges.
Since coming from his holiday in the Far East in January, the president has made almost 10 trips, including the current one in Russia where different nations are marking their victory against Germany in the world war.
Indications are that the president was making a follow up to so-called “mega deals” his government signed with Russia a couple of weeks ago. Critics say the deals were good on paper as they have not made any impact in Zimbabwe.
The president has so far visited Indonesia, Namibia, Zambia, Algeria, Ethiopia, Japan, Tanzania and South Africa. The South African trip was an official state visit, normally paid for by a host nation.
The Standard quoted an unidentified senior finance ministry official as saying that the trips are a massive drain on the fiscus in a country where the government is struggling to pay salaries for civil servants.
The official was quoted as saying the president uses thousands of dollars on a single trip set aside for allowances and other needs.
The Standard newspaper source further said, “The president is paid huge out-of-pocket allowances and that is besides the expenses he incurs. Except for the trip to South Africa, he always takes with him a huge entourage wherever he goes.”
There was no comment from Presidential spokesman George Charamba.