Mugabe’s foreign travel bill soars

Jet-setting President Robert Mugabe on Monday travelled from Nigeria to Sudan, adding to his escalating tally of foreign trips that continue to gobble millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.

After witnessing the swearing-in of new president Muhammadu Buhari, he took a plane to Sudan via Equatorial Guinea, where he spent two days, for the inauguration of president Omar al-Bashir.

By May 10 this year, Mugabe had travelled at least 140,000 km to 14 African, Asian and East European countries. His trips came amid protests that, after 35 years in power, he must step down to allow for new blood in Zimbabwe.

His airborne sojourns have taken him to South Africa, Indonesia, Dubai, Singapore, Russia, Japan, Ethiopia, Botswana, Algeria and Tanzania.

The MDC-T has lambasted Mugabe’s trips, saying they are putting severe strain on the treasury at a time the country is suffering a severe liquidity crunch and struggling to fund key public projects and even pay salaries.

On every trip outside Africa Mugabe spends an average of $20,000 per day, with expenses including food, accommodation and allowances for his usually large entourages. In Africa, it has been slightly less – around $15,000 per day. This is in addition to jet fuel undisclosed amounts paid for the service of health carers who accompany him.

Chartering a plane costs about $700,000 per trip, meaning that about $14 million has been spent on this e alone.

“Robert Mugabe has flown more hours than the average commercial airline pilot in the world. We strongly condemn the reckless and selfish wastage of limited state funds on these useless foreign jamborees. Just imagine what $50 million could do to the provision of drugs in hospitals and rural clinics. Mugabe no longer stays in Zimbabwe but has become a constant visitor,” says a recent MDC-T statement.

Media reports have quoted unnamed diplomatic sources saying Mugabe takes with him some $4 million on every trip and is also paid a huge allowance.

Post published in: Economy

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