Outrage over Mnangagwa's jet-setting

 Outrage over Mnangagwa's jet-setting
Published: 28 April 2019
Zimbabweans have expressed outrage over President Emmerson Mnangagwa's shocking move to hire an expensive plane from Dubai for the second time in a row to transport him from Harare to Bulawayo to attend the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).

The ZITF ended in Bulawayo yesterday. Government yesterday said the plane was not hired but was offered for free by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Crowne Prince.

"This issue has been clarified by the President's spokesperson, George Charamba and that is the position of the government. The UAE has offered us a plane to be used by the President whenever we want it. We are not paying a cent for that plane, but it is a privilege we are enjoying from this friendly nation.

"In the case of the ZITF, the President was hosting Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and it was appropriate that the UAE plane be borrowed to give the visiting President a comfortable flight to Bulawayo. Most Air Zimbabwe planes are grounded, and the remaining ones are unsafe for the presidium. The ministry of Transport is working round the clock to ensure Air Zimbabwe is re-capitalised and new planes bought and until that happens, the country will continue to rely on borrowed aircraft," Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi said yesterday.
Observers said Mnangagwa's penchant for travelling in state-of-the-art airplanes flies in the face of his government's "austerity for prosperity" mantra.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the move by the president was a clear demonstration of his insincerity.

"I don't agree with austerity, but one has to be so detached from reality or basic economics to believe that Zimbabwe is pursuing austerity measures. Austerity in Zimbabwe is on paper and in Mthuli Ncube's bedroom or library or it exists in whatever he smokes. You can't have a bloated government spending more than it is getting as you pay lip service to austerity. That

Mnangagwa is jet-setting and at a huge cost to the fiscus should tell you that you have a regime that speaks austerity and acts superfluously flamboyant. The only thing Mthuli did was to heavily tax everyone including micro-income earners to broaden revenue base so that they spend more in government," Saungweme said.

He said ordinary people were facing desperate times and struggling to eke out a living because of the heavy taxes.

"This is not austerity but politically-motivated penury and poverty of the masses by a high spending and a high-flying capitalist regime that does not believe in austerity but high-spending on luxuries," he said.

Observers say Mnangagwa's immoderate expenditure is ironic, considering Zimbabwe's economic pressures, adding that spending can at least be reduced if the president uses local airlines and channel the money to depleted hospitals and schools.

The health sector in the country has virtually been destroyed by years of plunder and corruption as government has been failing to resuscitate this sector.

Last year, Ncube announced some stringent measures aimed at reducing government expenditure. Among some of the measures were a five percent salary cut for the president, his deputies, top government officials and parastatal bosses. Presenting his 2019 National Budget in Parliament last November, Ncube's measures included retiring all civil servants above 65 years of age and retrenching over 3 000 youth officers.

He also introduced a two percent tax on every electronic transaction between $10 and $10 000.

However, observers have said while this was a noble initiative,  but these efforts were going to waste owing to Mnangagwa's insatiable desire to travel large.

MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume said Mnangagwa's extravagant expenditure was unbelievable, considering the economic troubles in the country.

"I think they were calling other people economic terrorists; I do not know if such activities do not fit the term economic terrorism. Everyone in the country is suffering but they see it fit to charter expensive jets to fly in simply to go to Bulawayo.

"It is amazing, it is insensitive, it is so grossly callous that you have to see it to believe it. It's unbelievable that he had to do that when people cannot afford to go to work, cannot afford to buy bread, cannot afford to pay school fees. They have run the economy in such a way that it is bad for everyone else in such a way that everybody ends suffering. There is no money, they increase prices at will, parastatals are increasing prices, there is no walking the talk," Mafume said.

He said it boggles the mind how the government will be able to explain "such profligacy, such primitive expensive undertakings."

Another political analyst Admire Mare said Mnangagwa's spending signifies a lot of things, among them security concerns around using the national airline and other cheaper commercial flights.

"It also casts doubt on his sincerity to walk the talk in so far as the ‘austerity for prosperity' mantra is concerned.

"In a country struggling to address a myriad of socioeconomic challenges, hiring expensive jets only worsens the economic crisis rather than help the fiscus to deal with the challenges of the day," he said.
- dailynews
Tags: Mnangagwa,


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