PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, battling a vicious succession war and a comatose economy back home, is today expected to leave for a low-key youth summit – World Festival of Youth and Students – in Sochi, Russia, where he has been invited among three other world leaders.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Mugabe’s trip to Russia comes a day before his unofficial doomsday of October 17, where controversial cleric Philip Mugadza predicted that the 93-year-old leader would die.
But Mugadza yesterday seemed to be backtracking on his “prophecy”, saying God had changed his plans and spared Mugabe’s life.
“About three days ago, I received word from God saying that the death of President Mugabe has been postponed to a later date which is not specific. It’s not like I have been praying so that he goes to prove myself right, but this is the word of God and it has to be delivered as it is,” he said.
Information minister Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday laughed off Mugadza’s prediction, saying: “The President is a Christian himself and he worships and prays to a living God, he will not be worried about prophecy made by people. It would be interesting to know when Mugadza himself will die.”
Moyo said the government was not the least bit worried about October 17 and it was business as usual.
Mugabe at 93 will be the only President at the festival in Sochi, where he is set to be recognised as one of the four world leaders spearheading the fight against imperialism.
The conference which started last Saturday and running until October 22, is mainly aimed at uniting 20 000 young leaders from more than 150 countries.
Other leaders to be honoured at the festival are Fidel Castro Ruz of Cuba, Chez Guevara of Argentina and the late Abdel Aziz of Western Saharawi.
Mugabe, who was invited to Sochi last week by World Federation of Democratic Youth president Nikolas Papadimitriou, has already moved this week’s Cabinet meeting from the traditional Tuesday to today in preparation for the trip, where he will likely blow another $10 million in travel and accommodation costs for his 80-member delegation.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba yesterday professed ignorance over the Russian trip.
“I don’t know that he is going to Russia because at the moment I am at the farm, so I will only have information tonight when I get into town,” Charamba said.
This is not the first time Mugabe has blown taxpayers’ money on low-key international trips.
In March last year, the Zanu PF leader cut a lone figure at the World Culture Festival, which was later aborted on security grounds, forcing Mugabe and his entourage to retreat to Singapore.
Mugabe last month, blew another $10 million at the United Nations United Nations General Assembly before he took with him another huge delegation on a State visit to South Africa early this month.