PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe doggedly continues with his hectic foreign travel schedule, ignoring criticism from rivals even as his wife is reportedly seriously ill.
Mugabe arrived in Ethiopia Sunday, the fifth country he has visited this month alone.
Before travelling to Addis Ababa, Mugabe was in Tanzania to attend the 3rd Africa-China Youth Leaders Forum.
In Ethiopia he will attend the 18th Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
The 91-year-old leader reckons that, as chairman of SADC and the African Union (AU), he must attend these meetings but rivals say his cash-strapped government cannot afford the veteran leader's penchant for foreign travel.
However, his spokesman dismissed the criticism, telling Mugabe’s rivals that foreign policy is expensive.
"The President is a combination of the SADC chairmanship as well as the AU chairman,” George Charamba said in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com last week.
“There is a price to be paid for leadership Sir! It doesn't come cheap, and by the way whoever told Zimbabweans that foreign policy is cheap, is completely mistaken; foreign policy costs...come on!"
Charamba also rejected suggestions that Mugabe should allow his two deputies to go on some of the trips because they would travel with smaller and therefore less costly delegations.
He charged: "You are not going to tell the president when to delegate and when not to delegate, where you sit … on your little desk rejournalism, you tell the President (to) delegate this, don't delegate this. You?!
“Don't be presumptuous, what do you know about state craft?”
Earlier this month, Mugabe spent a week in Japan before travelling to Namibia after which he was off to Algeria on a state visit which has been followed by the East Africa jaunt.
The Zanu PF leader has also practically lived on his Air Zimbabwe plane for much of the month even as his wife is reportedly seriously ill.
Grace Mugabe has not been seen in public since returning from Singapore where she had surgery while the first family was on its annual vacation.
After causing a storm by sitting at the top table next to her husband while attending a politburo meeting, the First Lady suddenly disappeared from public view.