JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga have taken two Dubai-registered private jets on foreign trips in the last seven days – spending precious foreign currency.
Chiwenga, currently receiving treatment in India for an undisclosed ailment, left Harare on an Airbus A318-100 Elite on May 18.
The luxury jet, with registration A6-CAS, is owned by Constellation Aviation Services of Dubai.
The plane has been sitting on the tarmac at Indira Gandhi International Airport since landing there on May 19.
Mnangagwa left Harare on Friday for Pretoria, South Africa, where he will attend President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration on Saturday.
The 76-year-old, who was received by South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan at Lanseria Airport, flew in a Boeing 737-700 IGW jet registered to Royal Jet.
The plane, with registration A6-RJX, has 30 seats, 28 of them VIP and has a bedroom towards the rear. It specifically flew from Dubai to take Mnangagwa on the less-than-two-hour flight to South Africa.
Mnangagwa and his senior ministers’ penchant for flying and hiring expensive planes has been widely condemned by Zimbabweans who say the Zanu PF leader is preaching austerity while practising the opposite.
Zimbabwe faces a major economic crisis marked by runaway prices of goods, stagnant salaries in the face of hyperinflation and major shortages of fuel, electricity and United States dollars to finance imports of grain and medicines.
Meanwhile, Presidential spokesman George Charamba said Chiwenga is in India for a “routine check-up” after he was treated there last February.
“As you may recall, the last time the VP was in India for medical attention, so this time, he was due for review,” Charamba said. “As far as we know, he went for a routine check-up which was scheduled. I don’t know what you mean when you say he was unwell when he left. All I know is that it was time for a medical check-up.”-zimlive