Mugabe’s Trips Depleting Country’s Coffers: Tsvangirai

Addressing journalists in Harare Wednesday afternoon, Tsvangirai said President
Mugabe had no choice but to seek outside medical help even if it left the country’s coffers depleted.

“…If somebody is sick what do you want him to do? You want him to die when he can seek medical attention somewhere. I think those are justifiable excuses,” he said.

Tsvangirai had been asked by journalists to justify the expenditure of US$30 million in foreign travels which was shared among the three principals to the Global Political Agreement between July and September this year.

“The responsibility of the state is to look after its leaders,” Tsvangirai continued, “If the President is sick he should be attended to. Whether you like it or not he may say ‘I was sick what did you want me to do’, and who am I to question him?”

Pressed further to say why Mugabe does not seek treatment within the country, Tsvangirai suggested Mugabe could be suffering from a serious ailment that requires the attention of foreign doctors.

“What you are trying to draw me is to tell you what ailment he is suffering from. Maybe the attention of that is outside the country where there is that expertise and maybe we don’t have that expertise. What do you want him to do? He is not certainly suffering from malaria which you can obtain at the nearest hospital. There might be complications.”

Tsvangirai however said it was unfair to be “lumped together with President Mugabe” whose trips gobbled the highest.

The expenditure by the three principals is seen as obscene in a country where the entire government spends just US$5 million.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti says foreign travels have become one of the most run away expenditures in the fiscus.

Meanwhile, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) took a swipe on Tuesday’s police raid on his party’s headquarters at Harvest House saying the law enforcement
agents have become the principal violators of the law that they purport to uphold.

“The police say they are for the law, they are for the people and there are for the country but what we have witnessed is that they are anti-law, they are ant-people and they are anti-country’s progress,” he said.

The MDC-T offices were raided on Tuesday by dozens of police officers who allegedly threw teargas, beat members of the public and forced a number of shops to abruptly close.

Tsvangirai has also been subject to police intimidation during government tours and party rallies in Matabeleland North last week which police went on to disrupt despite court orders ordering the contrary.

The veteran trade unionist also accused state agents for instituting a “coup” on the inclusive government and warned of a potential implosion in the country if it continued on the path of state intimidation.

Tsvangirai sought to clear his name on gays and lesbians which has seen him being attacked by some sections of the country’s population for ‘supporting’ rights of homosexual community.

The Premier asked his critics to differential between “beliefs and opinions” saying the fact that he was a father and grandfather meant he was heterosexual.

“What I will refuse to do as a loyal son of God is to persecute to judge, condemn and vilify people for their own opinion. Judgment is the preserve of God, the Almighty,” he said.

“This is the final statement I would say on the issue and I would not make any other.”

Tsvangirai said he was saddened at that democratic reforms agreed among governing parties at the inception of the unity government, especially media reforms had stalled.

He accused Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu, a Mugabe loyalist, of deliberately stalling the licencing of private broadcasters and further castigated the country’s leading newspaper stable, ZimPapers for seeking a radio licence.

“This is the biggest assault on our quest for media freedom in this country,’ he said.

“Zimbabweans want a plural media. They do not want one more of the same. They want a multiplicity of voices not another ZBC in a different form. It would not be surprising at this rate to learn that ZBC itself is now seeking a newspaper as part of pluralising the print media in this country.”