HARARE – Information minister Jonathan Moyo yesterday leapt to the defence of President Robert Mugabe’s globe-trotting ways, saying the nonagenarian was elected to govern and not to rest.

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MoyoResponding to comments on his Twitter account on Mugabe’s myriad foreign trips at a time that Zimbabwe is experiencing an economic meltdown, Moyo argued that travelling abroad was part of the president’s work.

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“He was elected not to rest but to govern,” tweeted Moyo, adding that, “What you’re calling travel is actually work”.

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As if determined to live up to his new nicknames “Absentee President” and “Visiting Leader”, Mugabe yesterday travelled to Algeria — a trip that comes soon after his visits to Singapore, Japan and Namibia last week alone.

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Although he was supposed to fly out to Algeria on Monday, he delayed his trip by a day, apparently because he was feeling exhausted after his whirlwind travels last week.

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Mugabe revealed at the weekend that he was feeling very worried and tired lately, and that he had a sleepless night on Saturday.

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His new nicknames have come amid accusations by Mugabe’s critics that he is spending more time in the skies and outside the country than he is doing running the country in his office back home, at a time that Zimbabwe is experiencing a deepening political and economic crisis — with millions of its people living in abject poverty and facing starvation due to a combination of poor policies and erratic rains.

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Mugabe himself said bizarrely on Sunday that he was working too hard, having slept only two hours on Saturday night — raising questions as to why the nonagenarian is burning air miles to the extent that he is doing.

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His trip to Algeria yesterday will mean that Mugabe will have flown more about 60 hours, and tens of thousands of kilometres by the time he comes back home later this week — amid talk that he is scheduled to go on the road again even then, this time on African Union business.

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The 60 hours on the plane also mean that the president will have spent more time flying than he has spent in Zimbabwe since he embarked on his trip to Singapore and Japan, a fortnight ago where he controversially included his daughter Bona as part of his official entourage.

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Mugabe was in Japan for the United Nations 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, and went to Namibia last Friday for the inauguration of that country’s third president since its independence in 1990, Hage Geingob. – Daily News

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