OPPOSITION parties have reacted angrily to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to China which, according to media reports, gobbled over $2, 3 million in private plane hire.
Mnangagwa, who is on his first State visit to the Asian country since he took over power from his predecessor ,Robert Mugabe in November last year, reportedly blew over $2,3 million to charter a private Swiss luxury jet to Beijing.
According to media reports, the local airliner, Air Zimbabwe had offered to take the presidential delegation to China for $1, 9 million but government opted for a luxurious private jet owned by Switzerland –based aviation management company, Comlux at a cost of $2, 3 million.
MDC-T spokesperson, Tabitha Khumalo said President Mnangagwa should be impeached for abusing public funds.
“It is very clear that Mnangagwa’s policies and tendencies are similar if not worse than Mugabe. Surely, how can the government spend over $2, 3 million on a hired plane while people are dying in hospitals because the government cannot afford to pay doctors? This is evil and we want the President to be impeached for abusing public funds,” said Khumalo.
The Bulawayo East legislator said the government should have hired the less expensive Air Zimbabwe.
“You cannot say Zimbabwe is open for business when leaders continue to shun their facilities in preference of those outside the country,” she said.
Zapu spokesperson, Ipithule Maphosa also echoed Khumalo’s sentiments.
“It is ironic that Mnangagwa blows such a huge amount of money in a country that had its public doctors on strike for a month. Teachers are also threatening to embark on a similar strike yet the president pulls a delegation of over 80 on a joyride to China. As if that is not enough, he hires state of the art plane for maximum comfort using almost dried up state coffers,” fumed the Zapu spokesperson.
Maphosa also accused Mnangagwa of excluding outside Harare business people from his trip where the President is expected to call for investment.
“We are also getting reports that his selection of business people to China was exclusionary as he only took with him those from Harare leaving other parts of the country. This was the same approach that was used by Mugabe. Today it is only Lacoste supporters who are benefitting from state business opportunities, just like what Mugabe used to do before November 2017,” added Maphosa.
Economic Reform Assembly (ERA) president, Amos Dangwa accused the government of prioritising trivial issues.
“This country is facing numerous and serious challenges such as cash shortages, unemployment and an ailing health sector. For a government which is in such a deep crisis to spend more than $2, 3 million on hiring a jet to go and beg for investment is ridiculous. This simply shows that there is something wrong with our priorities as a country,” said Dangwa.
According to media reports, the aircraft includes a private bedroom with en suite bathroom, office, dining and living room.
The plane also includes rooms for entourage and staff.