By Tafadzwa Muranganwa.
Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba has been criticised for defending President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s use of private luxurious jet at a time when the country is in an economic meltdown.
In an interview on the Zimpaper’s radio station, Star FM’s Meet the Minister’s Desk hosted by Linda Muriro recently, the Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet and presidential spokesperson , Mr George Charamba justified President Mnangagwa’s foreign trips and indicated that diplomacy does not come cheap.
“There are certain costs which we have to incur. In any case, let us not forget that diplomacy does not come cheap.
“They will continue to gobble for the simple reason that when the President is taking on an assignment like engagement and re-engagement, promoting Zimbabwe as an investment destination, that is a spending item,” said the former permanent secretary of the ministry of information, media and broadcasting services.
There was an uproar after President Emmerson Mnangagwa hired Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner for his recent five-nation tour of Eurasia which was estimated to chew $74 000 per hour running costs.
The trip led him to Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan while the Davos, Switzerland was later cancelled following the violent protests back home.
However, Mr Charamba leapt to the defence of the Eurasia trip advising Zimbabweans to assess Mnangagwa’s trips from benefits accrued and not from a cost perspective stating that the trip was a success as huge investments where sought.
“Let me point out that the Eurasia trip which some people have made qualms about was a resounding success and very soon you will buses coming to complement our mass public transport system, the Darwendale platinum project will employ thousands of people and so many other investments that soon people will see and appreciate that the trip was necessary,” added the veteran civil servant.
But in response, opposition MDC Alliance spokesperson Jacob Mafume blasted Charamba for defending such extravagance when most Zimbabweans are wallowing in poverty.
“It is the highest callousness and lack of care for George Charamba to try and justify the expensive trip using a private jet known to be used by oil oligarchs or mafias.
“Any normal head of state would be embarrassed to get into an aeroplane like that when people are starving ,any well-meaning leader would not afford such opulence and this just shows us that the current leadership only cares for itself not the people,” charged Mafume.
According to political analyst Vivid Gwede said it is folly for the presidential spokesperson to try to hoodwink Zimbabweans that the foreign trips are prudent.
“Everyone knows that there is no value addition to diplomatic engagement that comes from a leader of a struggling people begging for investment and lines of credit while aboard an expensive jet
“Most leaders of the countries we are approaching use their national airlines for foreign flight, ” argues Gwede.
He also ridiculed ‘austerity for prosperity’ theme for finance minister Professor Mthuli Ncube’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme saying it means the poor have to tighten their slim belts while the leadership is free of such limitations in spending.
The finance minister is putting measures to cut government expenditure and criticism has been pouring on why he is failing to tame the executive from gobbling millions of dollars on foreign trips.