Ordinary Zimbabweans and major opposition parties have condemned the First Family’s reported penchant for glitz and extravagant ‘state-funded’ jaunts in faraway countries, at a time the country’s economy is well and truly in the doldrums.
Photos and a video clip of the Mugabe family having a great family time in an apparently expensive restaurant in Singapore have been posted online.
Although Mugabe, who turns 91 in two months’ time, betrays no emotion and appears to be out of sync with the jovial mood at the table, Zimbabweans and his political opponents back home have had no kind words for him and his family.
Jacob Mafume, spokesperson of the MDC renewal team, said the pictures of the First Family having extravagant fun were the latest and clearest sign that Mugabe had little regard for his own country.
“The First Family is showing cognitive dissonance which is opposed to the reality on the ground. The ordinary persons could not afford a piece of chicken at Christmas yet the First Family is showing the whole world that they are enjoying themselves.
“Mugabe has shown us that the people of Zimbabwe do not like him and he in turn does not like the people of Zimbabwe.
“The president should not be indulging himself in gluttonous acts when his people are wallowing in poverty that was caused by his misrule,” Mafume said.
In power since the attainment of independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe is widely panned for having reduced the country from being the bread basket of Africa to a much-derided ‘basket case’.
During his long rule, the country’s social service delivery sectors have been on a steep downward spiral, with hospitals in disarray, water getting scarce and thousands of children dropping out of school.
Douglas Mwonzora, the secretary general of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC said the snapshots of the First Family wining and dining overseas – were tantamount to rubbing salt in the wounds of Zimbabweans who were sleeping on empty stomachs.
“What the First Family is doing is a display of the typical last supper mentality that has gripped Zanu PF.
“Zimbabweans are wallowing in misery and most of them do not have an income to spend at Christmas. They are hungry,” Mwonzora said.
On top of the 4 600 companies that have closed since 2010, more are expected to fold next year and the number of those unemployed will continue to rise.
End of year bonuses have all but dried up, with an astonishing 60 000 people having lost their jobs in company closures with nearly 5 000 leaving since Zanu PF’s disputed electoral triumph last year.
Critics say the sparkle long-associated with the festive season is gone and there is an overpowering feeling of dejection among the majority of Zimbabweans, especially the unemployed.
“The carefree attitude that the First Family is displaying has characterised Zanu PF leaders since 1980. Those left in charge are either partying at their farms … when the country is desperately in need of leadership,” said Mwonzora.
Asked by one person on Twitter why the First Family was having a splendid time while “Zimbos” (Zimbabweans) are starving, Mugabe’s son Robert Jnr, who posted the pictures, replied asking, “are you Zimbabwean and are you starving?”
In the pictures, posted on Instagram – a video and picture-sharing social platform – most of the family, except an out of sorts Mugabe, happily pose for the photos.
Grace – and sons Robert Jnr, Chatunga and Russell (from her first marriage) – along with daughter Bona and husband Simba Chikore, pose for the pictures, smiling in what appears to be an upmarket restaurant.
Asked by his friends about the location of the restaurant, Robert Jnr replied “Nadaman in Singapore! Next time you think of going to the Far East you should try it out.”
Nadaman is an expensive Japanese restaurant for the most affluent in Singapore. It reportedly only serves the rich and famous.