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‘Aged Mugabe must cut down on foreign trips’


POLITICAL analysts and opposition parties yesterday called on President Robert Mugabe to scale down on his foreign trips and attend to pressing domestic problems.


They also asked him to either step down and allow a caretaker government to take over following his own admission that his busy travelling schedule on both State and personal business was taking a heavy toll on his health.

Mugabe on Sunday told hundreds of people gathered at the Kutama Mission centenary celebrations that he was tired and had only slept for two hours after arriving from Namibia.

The 91-year-old veteran leader, who is also the Sadc and African Union chairman, has been globe-trotting since last December, spending most of his time out of the country both on medical check-ups and government and regional business commitments.

Yesterday, he flew out of the country to Algeria for a four-day State visit and was expected to fly to Ethiopia for the AU summit sometime next week.

The President was in Japan last week and flew back home only to fly out again to Namibia a few hours later for the inauguration of that country’s new President Hage Geingob.

The main opposition MDC-T said Mugabe should step down to pave way for a caretaker government to run the country as he had failed to stimulate the economy.

MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said: “The old man is now 91 and he is clearly past his prime. Most certainly, Zimbabwe has no shortage of younger and more capable leaders who are able to take over from Mugabe.

“Surely, it is tragic for Africa to burden the old man with such onerous responsibilities when he is in the sunset of his life. The MDC is hugely concerned by Robert Mugabe’s frequent absence from Zimbabwe.”

He added: “If the truth be told, there is a compelling need for the entire Zanu PF administration to immediately step down in order to give way to a caretaker administration that will ensure that the impending mass starvation is averted and also that the necessary conditions for the holding of a free and fair election are put into place.”

Media Centre director Earnest Mudzengi said Mugabe was being “overworked” by his Zanu PF yet his schedules must be reasonable to allow him to rest.

“His statement points to the fact that he is overworked and he needs to take a bit of rest. His schedules should be planned to slow down on his activities and he should also delegate other people,” Mudzengi said.

United Kingdom-based Barbara Nyagomo yesterday said it was natural that Mugabe would be exhausted due to his advanced age, but accused those who want to protect their ill-gotten wealth of urging him to continue.

“It is natural and acceptable that at 91 years old President Mugabe is tired. At 91 years old he has a very busy work schedule and clocks thousands of air-miles frequently. He just came back from Japan and before he has recovered from jetlag he flies again to Algeria,” Nyagomo said.

“I urge the government to cut down on its spending and plough that money back to support its citizens. President Mugabe must
cut down his travel budget and focus on the problems at home. Millions can be saved if the President stops his travels with his massive entourage.”

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