PICTURES of President Robert Mugabe’s step son Russel Goreraza gallivanting in Harare’s potholed roads in a brand new and super luxurious Rolls Royce amid widespread poverty underlined how insensitive the first family has become.
Candid Comment,Owen Gagare
As if that was not appalling enough, photos of the pleasure-seeking Chatunga and an aide holding Gucci bags in the heart of New York on Tuesday, demonstrated how the Mugabe family, right from the father to the youngest son, are determined to live a champagne lifestyle while the majority of Zimbabweans suffer from the consequences of decades of misrule.
This is happening at a time the first family has been flexing its immense spending power as demonstrated by the recent splurging of more than US$8 million on mansions in exclusive suburbs South Africa and Harare.
Mugabe travelled with a 70-member delegation to the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, including his entire family, except Robert Jnr.
Each member of the delegation is receiving US$1 500 per day in allowances during the 10-day stay in New York, meaning each will pocket at least US$15 000 in public funds during the trip. This amounts to US$1 050 000, just on allowances for the bloated delegation.
The figures may seem small in the eyes of some fat cats, but one has to remember that this is just but one example of abuse of public funds by the First Family and their hangers on.
After all, a million dollars could have made a huge and positive difference in many public institutions such as hospitals, clinics and schools, which are hamstrung by lack of resources and equipment.
One wonders what the likes of Mugabe’s daughter Bona and Chatunga are doing in New York, considering they add absolutely no value to UN deliberations. In any case they are not government officials, hence suggestions that for the first family, the UN trip is seen as a God-sent holiday and shopping opportunity.
On Russel’s case, while public funds may not have been used to buy the latest state-of-the-art vehicles, there is evidence to suggest that family influence peddling was used as shown in our lead story.
The cars were not bought using the proceeds of hard work, strategic thinking or innovation, but acquired through name-dropping and family links.
No one would have a problem with Russel or members of the first family owning upmarket houses, a fleet of luxury cars and other valuables, as long as their lifestyle is not funded by taxpayers and driven by influence peddling or corruption.
It is well-known that the first family’s business empire is performing dismally because of mismanagement and unsustainable debt. So where is the money coming from?
Mugabe should take a hard and long look in the mirror and ask himself if he still upholds the values of the liberation struggle.