Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has taken his globetrotting escapades on taxpayers' expense to China amid complaints by the opposition and ordinary Zimbabweans affected by a serious economic turmoil.
The nonagenarian, who is on a month-long vacation, left Harare for Singapore last month with his entire family and a large entourage of security aides. Singapore is Mugabe's usual destination where he receives treatment for an eye cataract.
Mugabe's deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, said he tried to consult his superior on the hero status of a late former provincial governor Peter Chanetsa who passed on in Harare on New Year's Day, but his efforts were in vain.
The acting president told mourners at Chanetsa's home located in Harare's leafy Borrowdale suburb that he had tried to contact Mugabe at his Singapore base but was advised that he was now in China.
December salaries and annual bonuses
"We will pass on the message to our leader (Mugabe) who will give us guidance," said Mnangagwa. This, after the ruling Zanu PF party's Mashonaland leadership requested that Chanetsa's remains be interred at the national shrine in recognition of his contribution during the country's liberation war and the post-independence era.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the recently formed Zimbabwe People First led by former vice president Joice Mujuru have criticised Mugabe for going on holiday while the country is "burning".
Mugabe's administration has not paid most of its employees their December salaries and annual bonuses while the economic situation continues to deteriorate with many Zimbabweans surviving on less than a dollar per day. Cash shortages in the southern Africa country's financial system have also compounded the crisis.
Mugabe is expected to spend at least $6m during his month-long vacation. Closer to Mugabe's Harare base, authorities require less than a million dollars to contain a typhoid outbreak that has claimed at least one life in the capital. -- News24Wire