The 93-year-old leader Robert Mugabe has been criticised as a “non-resident president” for globe-trotting while the economy crumbles. He has visited Dubai, China, Singapore, Mexico, Ethiopia, Swaziland, South Africa, Ghana, Mauritius and Mali this year alone.
Mugabe spoke about the threat of climate change during the UN meeting in New York this week. South African broadcaster SABC reported that three aides helped him to the podium for a speech that was “at times stumbling.”
Despite his advanced age, reports of ill health and visible signs of slowing down, Mugabe still maintains a busy travel schedule.
Zimbabwe’s ministry of finance statistics says he spent US$36 million on foreign travel in the first 10 months of 2016.
An opposition leader and former finance minister, Tendai Biti, has repeatedly claimed that during his time in government, Mugabe took at least US$4 million for every trip to fund the presidential entourage.
“Self-evident that there must be a law restricting such travel by the president. He behaves like a five-year old,” Biti tweeted on Monday when word of Mugabe’s visit to the UN conference spread.
The president’s spokesman has defended his travels, saying that “diplomacy does not come cheap.”