By Staff Reporter
Harare, April 20, 2016 – PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe left the country Tuesday night for New York where he was set to attend a climate change summit.
Mugabe, who is accompanied by Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppa Muchinguri-Kashiri, is under fire for his often costly foreign travels which have chewed millions from the national coffers.
PDP leader Tendai Biti, who as former finance minister, is privy to Mugabe’s travelling budget, said last week that Mugabe has blown $20 million in foreign jaunts during the first four months of the year alone.
Mugabe is fresh from a Japanese state visit.
Before his trip to Tokyo, Mugabe came under fire for burning litres of jet fuel and spending huge amounts of state money in travel allowances for himself and his entourage on an aborted Indian junket ostensibly to attend a low-key World Culture Festival.
His spin doctors were at pains to attribute the failed visit to security challenges which were associated with the event.
It however emerged Mugabe actually used the two trips to make stopovers in Singapore where he continues to receive medical treatment for undisclosed ailments.
The State controlled Herald newspaper on Wednesday went to great lengths to justify his latest trip saying it had everything to do with the vagaries of the changing weather patterns which have seen the region suffer a devastating El Nino induced drought period.
“…Zimbabwe and other developing countries are keen on climate change mitigation, particularly as experts contend that global warming is impacting on sub-Saharan Africa more than any other region because of its over-dependence on rain fed agriculture.
“Zimbabwe and other developing countries, insist that the industrialised North is not taking a fair share of the burden of climate change given their contribution to the phenomenon and should thus lead by example by cutting emissions and also provide financial support to poorer nations as stated in the Climate Change Convention,” wrote the Herald.
Mugabe, at a ripe age of 92, is often accused of failing to delegate some of his foreign commitments to his two deputies Phelekezela Mphoko and Emmerson Mnangagwa, who have taken turns to act in his place during his frequent foreign jaunts.
His latest trip offers him the opportunity to be on American soil following a travel embargo imposed on him and a number of his cronies by the super power for alleged rights abuses.
Mugabe can only be allowed to travel to the US while on UN business.
The New York High Level Signature Ceremony of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change follows the December 12, 2015 agreement by the 196 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change where member states pledged to work together to limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius.