Mugabe takes to the skies again

By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |

President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday flew out of the country again, just over two weeks after a controversial Swaziland trip that ended up in Dubai.

President Robert Mugabe arriving home in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Saturday after a trip to the Middle East. Credit Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
President Robert Mugabe arriving home in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Saturday after a trip to the Middle East. Credit Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

Mugabe, 92, left Harare for the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit where he is expected to join more than a hundred other states to discuss the economic empowerment of the developing world.

The NAM was formed in 1961 as a middle road bloc during the infancy of a bi-polar world pitting the capitalist west against the communist eastern Europe.

Mugabe has in the past questioned the relevance of NAM and urged it to reform to particularly lead the reformation of the United Nations (UN).

Today, it is largely considered symbolic, following the fall of communism in the late 1980s.

Mugabe was accompanied by his wife, Grace and a host of senior government officials.

Mugabe’s last external trip was to Mbabane, Swaziland in late August, for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of State and government summit.

He mysteriously dumped the convention, briefly returned home and went away to Dubai, amid speculation that he had been taken seriously ill.

On his return, Mugabe claimed that he had gone to attend to his son, but his spokesperson gave a contradicting explanation, saying Mugabe’s trip was an official excursion planned well ahead of the Mbabane meeting.

It was not clear why the president decided to travel to Swaziland in the first place when he hardly participated in any business there.

Nor did the presidency explain why he chose to attend to family matters ahead of a crucial regional summit where human rights defenders were planning to campaign against increasing State-sponsored violence against government critics.

Mugabe’s opponents have repeatedly complained that Mugabe’s trips abroad are draining an already strained treasury.

While information on the costs of his travels are a closely guarded secret, Mugabe is thought to have gobbled millions of dollars in foreign trip this year alone, with one day outside the country independently estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in accommodation, food and allowances for his large entourages. Nehanda Radio