The cash-strapped government has bought a new fleet of V6 Toyota vehicles for President Robert Mugabe’s motorcade following a string of fatal road accidents.
Although the number of the new vehicles could not be immediately ascertained, impeccable sources said the new escort vehicles were first used on Saturday to pick Mugabe from Harare International Airport.
The veteran ruler was returning from a State visit to Zambia where he officially opened that country’s annual agricultural show. Sources said more vehicles had been bought for First Lady Grace Mugabe, but would not be fitted with beacons like those on Mugabe’s motorcade.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba was unreachable on his mobile phone yesterday.
Regis Chikowore, the principal director in the Media, Information and Publicity ministry, said he was not aware of the developments.
“This is news to me. You can try Charamba, he might know better,” he said.
But according to the source, each vehicle cost $70 000.
Mugabe has often come under fire for using an unnecessarily large motorcade that also has an expensive limousine.
It often includes other luxury vehicles and army trucks full of soldiers. In June, the motorcade was involved in three accidents inside two weeks.
In the last accident involving a commuter omnibus in Norton, one person was killed and 15 were injured. The motorcade was returning to Harare from Mugabe’s Zvimba rural home when a police lead vehicle sent to clear traffic rammed into the commuter minibus carrying 22 passengers. The other accident was caused by a burst tyre on one of the escort vehicles again as Mugabe returned from Zvimba.
The government has been failing to review civil servants’ salaries, citing the poor performance of the economy, but it has splashed millions of dollars on expensive vehicles for ministers and Members of Parliament since its inception in 2009.