Chaos has gripped Zimbabwe following a massive fuel hike which saw prices more than double on Saturday, but this has not affected the president’s travel plans.
Emmerson Mnangagwa has embarked on a five-nation European tour, starting in Russia, leaving his deputy president, Constantino Chiwenga, in charge, AllAfrica reports. Following his Russian visit, he will travel to Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, before heading to Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.
The trip has been slammed by both the country’s main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and by Jonathan Moyo, the country’s former higher education minister and a Mugabe loyalist whose faction, known as G40, fell out of favour, leading to the election of Mnangagwa rather than their preferred leader, former First Lady Grace Mugabe.
“A president who flies out for reasons of self-preservation and strengthening relations only for power retention is irresponsible and unfit to hold office,” said an MDC statement.
“This is against a background of a country which is burning with meandering fuel queues, shortages, shocking inflation, closed hospitals, and [an] education sector in intensive care.
“The money [for the trip] should have been used for urgent essentials.”
Mnangagwa sets the country on fire by announcing ill-thought hikes in fuel prices in two currencies & two exchange rates; and leaves the country burning to wine & dine in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan & Davos. This amounts to clear abdication of duty & responsibility! pic.twitter.com/pGhGwRnOa8
— Prof Jonathan Moyo (@ProfJNMoyo) January 14, 2019
Four people were feared dead on Monday while more than 20 people were treated for gunshot wounds as violent protests swept through the country following the fuel hikes, which were announced by Mnangagwa just after midnight on Saturday.
News broke on Monday that the headquarters of the opposition, the MDC, were attacked by people using petrol bombs.
In a Zanu-PF-led government statement, they blamed the protests on the MDC and civil society. The opposition has steadfastly refused to accept the result of last year’s elections.
(Additional reporting by ANA)