FORMER president Robert Mugabe has had his travel and security expenses drastically cut but has been allowed to keep the presidential limo and a wing in State House.
Mugabe, who was persuaded to resign last month after a military takeover, has been able to keep his bullet-proof black Mercedes limousine.
But now the limo is registered with an ordinary yellow number plate – and not the infamous white “Zim 1” plate it used to carry.
Meantime, Mugabe travelled to Singapore last week with a drastically-reduced entourage. His wife Grace still insisted on keeping half a dozen bodyguards.
“Mugabe had to compromise by allowing a smaller contingent as well as a smaller security team so that Grace could be allowed to travel with a six-member security team for herself,” a government source said.
“In the past, he would have taken over 80 people,” the source added.
Mugabe is understood to have some international travel expenses included in his retirement package. But his foreign trips are likely to be severely curtailed.
The former president spent more than $32 million on foreign travel between January and September this year.
New president Emmerson Mnangagwa has shown signs of wanting to cut costs like these. Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa allocated just $17 million to Mnangagwa and his cabinet for foreign travel in the 2018 budget.
Security at the Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion in northern Harare – where the Mugabes were held under house arrest during last month’s military takeover – has now been cut from 85 guards to 20.
Mnangagwa, who was on Friday confirmed as Zanu-PF’s only presidential candidate in 2018 elections, has allocated Mugabe a wing of State House as his personal space in case he wants to entertain official visitors during his retirement.
“He also has a library space that he may choose to use. Mnangagwa wants Mugabe to be as comfortable as possible during his retirement,” the source said.
The new government has been at pains to emphasise that what happened in Zimbabwe was not a coup.