PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s junkets have caused a storm after he hired a luxury jet from Dubai early this week to fly him to Victoria Falls, where he officially opened the third edition of the rural district councils chairpersons’ indaba on Thursday.
The development came shortly after MDC deputy president and former Finance minister Tendai Biti told a party rally recently that Mnangagwa could have blown in excess of US$200 million in travelling expenses since coming into power in November 2017.
But Mnangagwa yesterday told the Zanu PF women league that his never-ending trips were good for Zimbabwe.
“The media is busy saying I travel a lot. But look (at) what I bring. On Monday or so, we shall be receiving more medicines from the Arabs. They are giving us for free,” the President said yesterday.
According to flightware.com, the luxury Royal Jet A6-RJX left Abu Dhabi at 0930hrs on Tuesday and arrived at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare at 1420hrs.
It then left Harare for Victoria Falls on Thursday before departing the resort town on the same day at 1340hrs and arrived in Harare at 1643hrs.
Royal Jet, according to their website, offers luxury executive flight services and can provide their customers VIP treatment when necessary and can charter any private jet anywhere in the world through their 24/7 charter brokerage service.
NewsDay, a Zimbabwean daily reports that that it could have cost between US$10 000 and US$30 000 per hour to fly the luxury jet. From July 6 this month, the luxury jet has flown the President from Harare to Niger and Benin, and back before returning to its base in Abu Dhabi more than seven times, cloaking nearly US$1 million.
The country is currently facing massive electricity load-shedding lasting for as long as 18 hours a day, while most public hospitals are failing to dispense critical drugs, which many could not afford in pharmacies. Motorists are also spending days in fuel queues across the country.
Although Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has defended Mnangagwa’s frequent international trips, saying he had to travel to countries like China because deals could not be sealed over the phone, it is not clear whether such huge costs were necessary for local travel.
MDC secretary for international relations Gladys Hlatywayo said: “The extravagance displayed by Zanu PF in a sea of poverty, suffering and economic distress is deeply disconcerting. A thorough investigation must be made into these trips, something is just not adding up and there could be more than meets the eye! I fail to understand why Zanu PF would put in so much resources in traveling and get next to no returns for such an investment.”