President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday afternoon flew to Pretoria, South Africa in a hired luxury jet from the United Arab Emirates, a move likely to be scorned by critics.
ZimLive.com reports that the jet is an Airbus A319-119CJ Elite, which landed in Harare at 2.47AM on Monday, left Harare just after 3 PM with the Zimbabwe leader on board.
The Airbus landed at Lanseria International Airport just outside Johannesburg at 4.40PM.
Mnangagwa is set to attend a SADC Solidarity Conference on Western Sahara, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975.
Speaking to a local publication over the weekend, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba defended his principal’s penchant for hiring expensive jets. Said Charamba:
If you’re to look at the opportunity costs, you’re bound to agree with us that hiring an aircraft for the president is much better than going through all those challenges.
Key to this, the scheduled flight will have to change its time to suit the president. This is dangerous for any airline.
However, MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume expressed disgust over the hiring of expensive jets. He said:
People are using their bare hands to dig for their relatives in the disaster-hit districts of Chipinge and Chimanimani, but the man who runs the country keeps finding scarce foreign currency to hire private jets.
SADC has not yet held an emergency summit to respond to the cyclone which has killed over a thousand people and left tens of thousands homeless in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa, but they are happy to convene a solidarity conference over far-flung Western Sahara.
It is clear Mnangagwa would rather be anywhere else than be here at home, where people are crying out for leadership. Zimbabweans deserve a leader who will put them first.
- Mnangagwa Leaves For Pretoria, South Africa