Cape Town - Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has reportedly defended President Robert Mugabe's numerous trips abroad, saying he was a "diligent person discharging his duties as head of African regional blocs".
Mugabe has, for a long time, been criticised by his opponents over his endless trips out of the country, as the country's economy continued to deteriorate.
According to News Day, Chinamasa was responding to a question in the National Assembly about the costs of the veteran leader’s trips.
"I hope you are not making a criticism of the president’s trips because he is chairperson of AU [African Union] and SADC [Southern African Development Community], and he will be in that position until January next year... He is a diligent person and he is discharging his duties to his utmost ability more than any other past chairpersons due to his concern for pan-Africanism," Chinamasa was quoted as saying.
Mugabe, according to New Zimbabwe.com has been out of the country for more than 20 times of late, spending millions of scarce cash as he travels with a large delegation.
Media reports have estimated his travel to have cost over $70m so far.
Mugabe was in Mozambique on Thursday to attend Mozambique's 40th independence anniversary. He was in South Africa recently for the AU summit and before that he was in Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Sudan.
Mugabe has also been to the Far East five times this year alone.