By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE opposition bas condemned President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s five-nation foreign trip which will see him travelling to the likes of Azerbaijan, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
According to presidential spokesman George Charamba, the Zimbabwean leader would also visit Russia and travel to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Charamba did not reveal the dates of the trips but the revelation come a time the country is struggling with a serious foreign currency crunch that has resulted in crippling fuel shortages.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com, opposition MDC spokesman Jacob Mafume the country has not realised any benefit from Mnangagwa’s globe-trotting since he assumed power.
“We are aware that no economic benefit will be derived from his globetrotting just like the other trips his government embarked in the past 12 months,” said Mafume.
He particularly questioned the rationale of visits to countries such as the former Soviet republic of Belarus whose leader has been described as “Europe’s last dictator”.
Mnangagwa has always been maintaining relationships with countries like Belarus where autocracy reigns supreme,” said Mafume.
“His trips to these countries, therefore, come not a surprise to us in the MDC. It’s his bid to take refresher courses on totalitarian, autocratic and fascist rule from the despots in these capitals.”
“This is against a background of increasingly closed democratic space in the country with teachers being arrested and dissent persecuted with Zanu PF displaying its true colours since the August 1st shootings.”
Revelation of Mnangagwa’s foreign travel schedule also come at a time the cash-strapped government has failed to end a doctors strike that is now in its second month.
Civil servants have also issued a 14-day notice to go on strike as the administration refuses their demands for salaries to increased and also paid in US dollars.
“A president who flies out for reasons of self-preservation and strengthening relations only for power retention is irresponsible and unfit to hold office,” said Mafume.
“This is against the background of a country which is burning with meandering fuel queues, shortages, shocking inflation, closed hospitals and education sector in intensive care.
“The money (to be spent on the foreign trips) should have been used for urgent essentials.”
Presidential spokesman Charamba however, described Mnangagwa’s trips as strategic and aimed at putting the crisis hit country on the global map after years of frosty relations with the West.
“The whole idea is to put Zimbabwe firmly on the map, so we leave behind us the dark days when we were perceived as a pariah state,” Charamba told state media.
“In all our interactions, we are putting in the forefront the need to attract and secure investments as well as co-operation in order to grow and transform our economy.”