President Robert Mugabe has made a last-minute decision not to attend a cultural festival in India despite making the more-than-7 000-kilometre trip there, it was announced late on Wednesday.
Mugabe, 92, was due to be guest of honour at the World Culture Festival in New Delhi but has called off his appearance due to “substantial inadequacies in protocol and security arrangements”, presidential spokesperson George Charamba said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The cancellation follows communication from organisers of the [World Culture] Festival acknowledging substantial inadequacies in protocol and security arrangements around the event,” read the statement.
Mugabe will now return to Zimbabwe “in a couple of days,” the state ZBC broadcaster reported in a late news bulletin. He had already come in for fierce criticism back home for going to the little-known event. India’s own president Pranab Mukherjee had said he would not attend, according to The Hindu newspaper.
Despite the fact that this was a culture festival, Zimbabwe’s Promotion of Culture Minister Abednigo Ncube was not part of the delegation travelling with the president.
Commenting on the cancelled appearance, media watchdog @ZimMediaReview asked: “Shouldn’t such assessments be made BEFORE he travels?”