Mugabe left the country on September 17 to attend the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Air Zimbabwe board Chairman Jonathan Kadzura, yesterday confirmed that the plane was grounded but refused to comment on the delegation’s new travel plans.
“It’s nothing serious, it’s not as magnified as you want it to sound,” Kadzura said. “The plane’s tyres got punctured on landing and we are working on replacing them.
“Although I can’t tell you when the president is coming, what I know is he will be here soon.” Air Zimbabwe resumed local and international flights last week after a strike by pilots that grounded its planes for almost two months.
The pilots were demanding unpaid salaries and allowances. Government gave the cash strapped airline US$2,8 million as it sought to end the job boycott that has crippled the country’s tourism industry.
Last year Mugabe attended the 65th session of the UN General Assembly with a delegation of about 80 people that included cabinet ministers, security aides and support staff.
His trips gobble thousands of dollars in taxpayers’ money as his delegation will be paid handsome allowances. Early this year Mugabe’s trips came under the spotlight when it was revealed that the veteran ruler demanded at least US$3 million from Treasury each time he travelled overseas.
The revelations came out in April when Mugabe made his sixth trip to Singapore where the First Lady Grace Mugabe was seeking medical treatment for a dislocated hip.