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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, increasingly feeling at home – far away from home – left Harare for Nigeria last week with aides saying from there he would also travel to Sudan.

The Zanu PF leader left capital amid a curious political storm over allegations he is a bad debtor that he borrows and then brutally punishes the lender.

It was claimed by a local newspaper that the Zanu PF leader hustled Ray Kaukonde for a $30 million loan years back, effectively repaying the businessman and politician with expulsion from Zanu PF over unproven allegations of a coup plot.

Zanu PF politburo members denied Mugabe admitted owing Kaukonde while the president’s spokesman George Charamba said the allegations were inspired by “unmitigated malice” against the First Family.

In Nigeria Mugabe joined several other world leaders for the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday and is scheduled to attend the swearing in of Sudanese leader Omer al-Bashir on Tuesday.

Rather than return to spiteful Harare and its gossip about unpaid loans, Mugabe and his entourage opted to spend the weekend in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea as guest of local gman and close friend President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

Mugabe’s spokesman Charamba claimed his boss, current chairman of the African Union, was in Equatorial Guinea for talks about threats to Africa with his counterpart.

“The position of Africa is under threat,” Charamba told state media.

“So they (Mugabe and Nguema) are sharing opinions in terms of how to strengthen the Ezulwini Consensus, which summarises the African position regarding the restructuring of the United Nations Security Council and this is likely to be a very key issue at the Johannesburg Summit,” said Charamba.

Far from madding Harare crowd … President Mugabe at dinner with his host

Yet both Mugabe and Nguema attended Buhari’s inauguration in Nigeria and could, plausibly, have done their talking about “threats to Africa” there.

Mugabe likely chose to spend the weekend in Malabo rather than return to Harare ahead of the trip to Sudan for Tuesday’s inauguration.

While Zimbabweans are divided over his 35-year rule, Mugabe is a hero elsewhere across the continent, feted as a liberation icon and the only African leader who can stand up to the overbearing and meddlesome West.

As a devout Catholic, he would probably point out that the Bible does say: “A prophet is honoured everywhere except in his own hometown”.

The veteran leader has hardly stayed at home this year.

An assiduous globe-trotter, Mugabe has used his position as AU and SADC chairman to practically live on his Air Zimbabwe plane, ignoring criticism from opponents.

The criticism is not inspired by compassionate concerns about the rigours of such extensive travel for a man now evidently struggling to talk and walk as his 91 years of age take their toll on his body.

Opponents say the country, buffeted by an economic crisis that started some fifteen years ago and under Mugabe’s watch and stubbornly refuses to relent, cannot afford the president’s endless foreign trips.

The hard-up government recently postponed payment of pensions due to the lack of money.

Funding for by-elections scheduled for June 10 is also uncertain after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) revealed it was given $4 million against a budget of $6 million.

Still money has to found for Mugabe’s travel with Charamba telling those complaining that “foreign policy is not cheap”.

Source : New Zimbabwe