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Zimbabweans Speak Out on Mugabe's Asia Vacation

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace. (AP)

Some Zimbabweans say President Robert Mugabe should have stayed at home during his current vacation and visited local holiday destinations to boost the country’s tourism sector.

Responding to a VOA Studio 7 Facebook thread on the president’s vacation in Asia, most Zimbabweans criticised his move, saying he should have stayed at home and visited Lake Kariba, Victoria Falls and Great Zimbabwe Ruins, among several other resorts.

One of the respondents, Edmore Munjodzi wrote, “Ko kumboita holiday muno ombopinda munana Mbare, Mufakose, Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo achiona kushupika kuri kuita vanhu nemaparariro aita maroads. (He should have been on holiday in the country and visited places like Mbare, Mufakose, Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo and seen how people are suffering and the poor state of the roads.”

Several others shared the sentiments saying the president was supposed to stay in Zimbabwe and boosted domestic tourism, which appears to be attracting a lot of foreign and local tourists.

Another respondent, Fungayi George Tiyenga, defended the president saying, “Thats no subject for discussion. The president is on leave. He chooses how to spend it. So totaurei ipapa pamunhu akazorora hake (So, what can we talk about when the person is on holiday?)”.

His views were echoed by some respondents, who indicated that the president made the right choice as most of his friends and Zimbabwe’s trading partners are in Asia.

Zimbabwe crafted a Look East policy soon after it was abandoned by the worst following allegations that the Zanu PF government stole elections and tormented opposition supporters during elections.

Benefits of this policy are yet to be seen in the country, which abandoned its local currency in 2009 at the height of its trade links with the far East.

Commentators like Ibbo Mandaza of the Southern African Political and Economic Series, have weighed in saying the president made a wrong choice for his vacation as Zimbabwe needs a big tourism boost.

“I think it’s a disgrace actually, the head of state unashamedly year in year out holidays in Malaysia or Singapore wherever he is right now. We are in Kariba right now, a beautiful part of the country. Next we will be in Nyanga. We have our own areas of holidaying … It’s a disgrace really.

“He probably doesn’t know some of these places or they are too far for him. And Malaysia is nearer …(laughs).”

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Studio 7 was unable to get a comment from presidential sppkesman George Charamba, as his phone was not reachable.

But Zanu PF activist and political analyst Morris Ngwenya believes that the president has a right to choose any place for his vacation.

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“… That is as good as saying one goes on holiday in one’s house or home place. That is not possible. When you talk of a holiday, you need a new place or a different environment. It is important for us because the president needs time to rest and also he needs to see other people and other things so that he gets new ideas.”