Last week, First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa flew to Belarus on a private jet with her twin sons, Collins and Sean. She hired a Gulfstream G550, which costs about US$10 900 per hour. The flight from Harare to Minsk took about 10 hours, meaning that she spent US$109 000 for a one-way trip.
In Belarus, she met with President Aleksandr Lukashenko and discussed matters of State. However, it is unclear what authority she has to represent Zimbabwe, as first ladies do not have official roles in the government by law.
She also met with Belarusian Foreign Affairs minister Sergei Aleinik, accompanied by her sons and Aleksander Zingman, a controversial businessman who is Zimbabwe’s honourary consul in Belarus. Zingman has business interests in several African countries.
The First Lady’s trip was kept secret from the public and the media. She did not travel with any State media reporters. She told the Belarusian press that she had a wonderful meeting with Lukashenko and that they talked about everything. She praised him for his hard work and care for his country and people.
The trip has raised eyebrows among Zimbabweans who question the motive and cost of the trip, as well as the legitimacy of the First Lady’s involvement in State affairs.