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In Brazil for Earth Summit, Mugabe Takes Flak for Bloated Entourage

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and a delegation of over 60 government officials are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

As has become the norm when the 88-year-old leader is out of the country, cabinet failed to sit on Tuesday and will remain suspended until his return.

Last week an emergency cabinet meeting agreed to “extensively” cut down on foreign trips which Finance Minister Tendai Biti said were gobbling millions of dollars that could be put to better use.

Early this year the president’s trips came under the spotlight when it was revealed that the veteran Zanu PF leader demanded at least US$3 million from treasury each time he traveled overseas.

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also called The Earth Summit of 2012, will be run June 20 through the 22.

It will run under a two-pronged theme: “A Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development (Poverty Eradication) and the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development.”

Pre-summit meetings including discussions by ministers and taskforces are currently underway and have exposed the sharp differences between the developed and developing countries over various sticky environmental issues.

Sources say Mr. Mugabe is expected to deliver his address Wednesday, focusing imposed on him and his allies by Western nations, and the failure by the West to honor agreements with Africa.

Former Zimbabwe diplomat to Ethiopia and international relations expert Clifford Mashiri commented that Mugabe’s trips are a drain to the fiscus.