Mugabe goes on a shopping spree

Mugabe’s shopping trip came several days after he visited the World Expo in Shanghai for Zimbabwe Day.

China is not a party to international sanctions on Mugabe, who is the subject of a Western travel ban and asset freeze.

A team of officers from the Hong Kong police VIP protection unit flanked the octogenarian president on Saturday as he visited high-end shops in the city’s Kowloon district, local media said.

A government spokesman was quoted as saying Mugabe was not on an official visit.

Mugabe’s daughter Bona is studying accountancy at City University of Hong Kong while he owns a home in the outlying New Territories district, the Sunday Morning Post reported.

The leader’s wife Grace sparked a diplomatic row last year when she escaped assault charges after allegedly striking a British photographer as he took her picture during a shopping trip.

Hong Kong’s justice department said she was entitled to diplomatic immunity as the Zimbabwean president’s wife, a decision that sparked a storm of criticism.

In Shanghai, Mugabe Wednesday thanked China for its support in helping his nation rebuild its shattered economy.

He said his country “immensely benefited” from China’s “generosity in several areas, including the supply of agricultural materials, and food assistance where inclement weather has affected our harvests”.

Once a breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe’s food shortages have been brought on by drought and Mugabe’s crippling land-reform programme.

In February, the European Union renewed sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle for another year, citing a lack of progress in implementing political and human rights reforms. – Sapa-AFP