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Mugabe off to NY for OCEANS summit… but Zimbabwe is landlocked

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2017-06-04 16:00

Robert Mugabe (File: AFP)

Robert Mugabe (File: AFP)

Special Report

·         NEWS

The United States embassy in Zimbabwean capital Harare has reportedly barred its citizens and staff from traveling on the southern African country's troubled national airline, Air Zimbabwe, citing safety concerns.

News24 Correspondent

Harare – Zimbabwe is landlocked – but that hasn't stopped President Robert Mugabe flying off to attend a UN summit on oceans in New York.

In news that's been greeted with disbelief by some in Zimbabwe where there is strong criticism of the 93-year-old's frequent foreign trips, the state ZBC broadcaster confirmed the 93-year-old's departure on Saturday.

Said ZBC: "The conference in New York will be co-hosted by the governments of Fiji and Sweden at the United Nations headquarters in New York, from Monday to the 9th of this month."

High-level delegation

This trip will be seen as even less relevant to Zimbabwe than last week’s trip to Mexico for a conference on disaster risk reduction.

As with that trip to Cancun, Mugabe is accompanied by a high-level delegation including his wife Grace and two cabinet ministers. That means costs will not be insignificant – just as Zimbabwe wallows in cash shortages.

Added ZBC: "The theme of the conference is, ‘Our Oceans Our Future: Partnering for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal no. 14".

"Relevant" guest?

Last week Mugabe was reported to have spent more time outside the country this year than in it.

Independent press reports said by late May he’d covered more than 145 000km and spent 250 hours in the air. The US will be the tenth country he has visited in 2017.

"The UN should only invite relevant guests to these conferences," observed government critic, Fadzayi Mahere on Twitter.

Strong enough to stay in office

South Africa-based journalist, Peter Ndoro commented: "President #Mugabe off on another trip. Precious funds wasted on travel. Surely one minister alone would be sufficient."

Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba has previously defended his boss's eagerness to travel, saying it proved he was strong enough to remain in office.


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