The United States has reportedly queried the inclusion of President Robert Mugabe’s family on his entourage of more than 70 people to the United Nations summit scheduled for next week.

According to Business Africa, although the summit was expected to run from September 19-23, Mugabe and his delegation were set to depart on September 16

The report quoted diplomatic sources this week as saying that the US embassy queried the inclusion of Mugabe’s family, namely the First Lady Grace Mugabe, their daughter Bona and grandson Simbanashe. The delegation also included Mugabe’s son Bellarmine Chatunga as well as Russell Goreraza, Grace’s eldest son.

“Passports were submitted last week for visa applications at the US embassy, but officials queried the number of delegates and declined to offer a visa to one of the journalists from the state media,” a source said.

“Mugabe’s entourage will be away for 10 days and government gives each member of the delegation US$1 500 per day.”

‘Mugabe family fiefdom’

A News Day report said that opposition parties and civic groups had expressed outrage over Mugabe’s trip, as his delegation was set to blow over $10 million in allowances at a time when the country was facing a crippling cash shortages.

“This just goes to show that Zimbabwe has now been reduced into a Mugabe family fiefdom. We are now a de facto Mugabe (Private) Limited company. The State has been captured by the Mugabe family. Robert Mugabe is the chief executive officer and his wife, Grace, is the chief operating officer. This is a tragedy of monumental proportions. Cry the beloved country,” Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson Obert Gutu was quoted as saying.

Another MDC led by Welshman Ncube said this was a globetrotting jaunt disguised as an international engagement.

“It is a heart stopper to learn that the 10-day trip will see each member of the delegation gobble over US$15 000 — at a time people are sleeping in bank queues, going for months on end without getting salaries.”

Personal business

The MDC claimed that the Mugabes, who were banned from travelling to the US, were using the trip for personal business.

More than 150 world leaders were expected to attend the UN Sustainable Development Summit at the UN headquarters in New York to formally adopt an ambitious new sustainable development agenda.

This agenda would serve as a launch pad for action by the international community and by national governments to promote shared prosperity and well-being for all over the next 15 years.

Mugabe was expected to address the world leaders on September 21.