'Globetrotting' Mugabe 'should not try to be another Christopher Columbus'

2017-06-07 08:00
Robert Mugabe (File: AFP)

Robert Mugabe (File: AFP)

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Harare - President Robert Mugabe should devote his energies to fixing cash-strapped Zimbabwe and stop trying to be another Christopher Columbus, a leading Zimbabwe daily has said.

In its lead editorial, Newsday said Mugabe had taken up to 53 delegates with him this week to attend a UN summit on oceans in New York - even though Zimbabwe is landlocked.

If Zimbabwe was "desperate" to attend this summit, Mugabe should have sent Zimbabwe's ambassador to the United Nations or the minister responsible for climate, the paper added.

Tens of thousands of dollars

Said Newsday: "By skipping this trip or sending someone junior, Mugabe would have saved this country tens of thousands of dollars."

Mugabe, 93, is reported to have made at least 20 foreign trips in 2016 - and already this year he's spent more time out of the country than in it. Last week he was in Cancun Mexico for a summit on disaster risk management.

Meantime ordinary Zimbabweans spend hours queuing to withdraw small amounts of cash from their banks, sometimes returning to queue for several days so they can empty their accounts each month.

'$1 000 a day allowance'

Reuters news agency reported last week that reporters from state media who accompany the head of state on these trips get a $1 000 per-day allowance. Many Zimbabweans are paid less than $500 per month.

On Monday Mugabe used his speech in New York to blast "illegal sanctions", according to Zimbabwe's state-owned Herald.

He also said - in a possible nod to the criticism of his decision to make the trip - that oceans and seas were "a vital resource to all of us irrespective of our geographical location on this planet".

Bleeding the economy

Said Newsday: "We hope that Mugabe and his government introspect and realise that these trips are bleeding the economy and the money used on these jaunts can be put to better use in hospitals, schools and other social services."

Explorer Christopher Columbus made four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean in the late 1400s and the beginning of the next century.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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