MEMBERS of President Robert Mugabe’s estimated 100-member entourage, are on a shopping spree in New York

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MEMBERS of President Robert Mugabe’s estimated 100-member entourage to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, yesterday flaunted their penchant for merry-making and shopping around for expensive designer suits in New York, drawing the ire of locals who took to social media to vent their anger.

That Mugabe’s aides and hangers-on usually take time for such trips to shop and enjoy taxpayers’ money had remained speculation, but yesterday, Zanu PF shadow MP for Hatfield Ace Lumumba exposed the massive shopping, wining and dining by some of the Zimbabwean delegates in New York for the UN General Assembly.

Zanu PF losing candidate for Hatfield Ace Lumumba  (far left) standing next to Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere near a presumably United Nations-chartered posh vehicle in New York yesterday

Lumumba, who lost in the July 2013 harmonised elections to MDC-T’s Tapiwa Mashakada, exposed the lavish lifestyle Mugabe’s bloated team was leading starting from the plane through his Facebook posts. The youthful party activist is also chairman for Harare Youth Council.

Some of his posts read: “Today at work: Spent the day with mentor [Environment] minister Saviour Kasukuwere being taught the ropes of UN (sic), went to Ralph Lauren Studios to try on some suits, am very ready for day 1 tomorrow.”

In one of the pictures, Lumumba is seen standing near a presumably UN-chartered posh vehicle with Kasukuwere while in another picture, the youthful shadow MP is seen coming out of a Jeep Cherokee vehicle parked next to a Chevrolet.

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In other pictures, he is seen trying suits in an upmarket clothing shop.

It was not clear how many officials Mugabe took with him, but according to pictures posted, dozens of people accompanied the President to New York, including some of his family members. Usually, the 90-year-old Zanu PF leader travels around with a delegation of around 100 aides when going on such trips, with all of them entitled to hefty subsistence allowances.

Mugabe flew out to New York on Saturday where he joined world leaders for the 69th session of the UN General Assembly. Today, he is expected to attend the Climate Summit before the General Assembly tomorrow.

Lumumba’s post angered hundreds of people on social media who questioned his wisdom of doing such things in an impoverished country.

However, Lumumba could not take it lying as he shot back saying: “If you have a problem with me call me, if you don’t have my number, you don’t know me well enough to have a problem with me so take it easy.”

MDC Renewal Team spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the shopping by Zanu PF officials had shown the huge gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” in Zimbabwe.

“The binge and orgy shopping by the leadership of Zimbabwe in New York shows a huge gap between the people and Zanu PF leaders for they want to feed their big stomachs. We have Zanu PF eating on behalf of the people and we condemn such primitive acts last seen in the days of the Roman Empire. They are mentoring each other to loot and spend people’s money in New York,” Mafume said.

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Tonderai Joseph Masimirembwa said: “You [Lumumba] are one useless person in Zanu PF. I don’t see you coming back home with anything that will benefit Zimbabwe.”

Others protested that members of Mugabe’s delegation were using taxpayers’ money to enjoy themselves in New York while Zimbabweans back home where reeling under a heavy tax regime introduced recently by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.

Shepherd Chikowore said: “As a leader, you show leadership qualities, you don’t go around bragging about the lavish lifestyle you are enjoying in New York. Rather update us on what you are going to present about the challenges we are facing.

Update us on the proceedings of the conference and how the conference is of benefit to Zimbabwe as a nation and the youth as a constituency. Real leaders show the importance of their presence at that conference rather than bragging about spending taxpayers’ monies in your spendthrift shopping sprees. We need real leaders.”

Jones Musara questioned why people like Lumumba were part of the delegation calling such inclusions unnecessary.

“Apparently even people who lost elections for MP such as Lumumba are also part of the delegation. In what capacity though given that he is not a government official? Is it because he has some association with the Zimbabwe Youth Council? Now he is busy going for shopping sprees using State resources and it’s very sad to see youths also copying and pasting failed politics of corruption and insensitivity for the suffering fellow Zimbabwean masses,” Musara said.

Source: NewsDay