PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday returned home from Singapore after flying out on Tuesday ostensibly for a cultural festival in India.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The 92-year-old leader did not set foot in India amid claims he had cancelled his engagements in that country for security and protocol reasons. An online flight tracking system later revealed that Mugabe had flown straight to Singapore where he regularly receives medical treatment.
Mugabe, who arrived at around 6am, was welcomed at Harare International Airport by his two deputies, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko.
Information ministry’s principal director Regis Chikowore confirmed Mugabe’s return but declined to comment on what he was doing in Singapore.
He referred questions to Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba, whose phone was not being answered. However, Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told ZTV that Mugabe’s aborted trip to India was not only to attend the cultural festival as a guest of honour.
He said Mugabe wanted to engage in talks with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee over economic issues and projects the Asian country had in Zimbabwe.
Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe and India entered into several bilateral agreements, and Mugabe’s visit and talks with Mukherjee — if the visit had been successful — were going to strengthen relationships between the two countries.
Mugabe was criticised by Zimbabweans who said his penchant for foreign trips was too much, to the extent he was now attending events that were supposed to be attended by his juniors in government.
He was accused of wasting tax payers’ money at a time the government was failing to feed the nation in the wake of a serious drought.
Charamba yesterday appeared on television saying that journalists were demanding to know the reason why Mugabe had gone to Singapore, and yet it was not their right to know.