MEMBERS of the European Parliament (MEP) have demanded that the European Union reverse its decision to give Zimbabwe US$270 million saying the money would likely be used to fund Grace Mugabe’s famed shopping sprees.
President Robert Mugabe’s wife is disparagingly known as the First Shopper for her alleged profligate spending in luxury boutiques during foreign trips with her husband.
Mugabe turned 91 last Saturday and a US$1 million celebration party is scheduled for this weekend.
Reports claim that two elephants, two buffalo, two sable antelopes and five impalas will be slaughtered for a giant barbeque at the event.
Members of the far right Dutch Freedom Party, Olaf Stuger and Hans Jansen, said by staging the huge party, Mugabe showed he was not committed to reform.
“The slaughter of two endangered elephants is a middle finger towards the West. With that he clearly shows that the willingness for political reform is an urban legend,” the MEPs said in a statement Wednesday.
They added: “That the tax money of hardworking Dutch in the pockets disappear from this corrupt dictator is a slap in the face to all those families.”
The EU recently unveiled a US$270 million aid package to support Zimbabwe’s agriculture and health sectors, marking the resumption of direct funding after more than 10 years.
But the Freedom Party MEPs said the facility should be reversed.
“The commitment of hundreds of millions of euros comes simultaneously with the wider travel rules for first lady Grace who likes to make purchases by private jet,” they said.
“So we can assume that our hard-earned tax money is being spent in the most expensive designer shops on the Champs-Elysées.
“If the European Commission has a little sense of fairness, it is better the flow of money to Zimbabwe to close immediately turn around and impose stricter trade and travel restrictions. That is the only way to force this corrupt country to reform. ”
Relations between Zimbabwe and the EU turned frosty following the 2002 elections, which foreign observers said were rigged to hand President Robert Mugabe victory.
The EU then slapped sanctions on Mugabe and members of his inner circle.
In recent years, the European bloc has lifted sanctions and travel bans on senior government individuals.