Mugabe goes shopping in Hong Kong

Zimbabwe`s President is the subject of a Western travel ban and asset freeze.

Updated: Aug 15, 2010, 12:48 PM IST

Hong Kong: Zimbabwe`s President Robert Mugabe spent the weekend shopping for high-end suits and shoes in Hong Kong, where he owns a house and his daughter attends university, local media reported on Sunday.

Mugabe`s shopping trip came several days after he visited the World Expo in Shanghai for Zimbabwe Day.

China is not a party to international sanctions on Mugabe, who is the subject of a Western travel ban and asset freeze.

A team of officers from the Hong Kong police VIP protection unit flanked the octogenarian President on Saturday as he visited high-end shops in the city`s Kowloon district, local media said.

A government spokesman was quoted as saying Mugabe was not on an official visit.

Mugabe`s daughter Bona is studying accountancy at City University of Hong Kong while he owns a home in the outlying New Territories district, the Sunday Morning Post reported.

The leader`s wife Grace sparked a diplomatic row last year when she escaped assault charges after allegedly striking a British photographer as he took her picture during a shopping trip.

Hong Kong`s justice department said she was entitled to diplomatic immunity as the Zimbabwean President`s wife, a decision that sparked a storm of criticism.

In Shanghai, Mugabe on Wednesday thanked China for its support in helping his nation rebuild its shattered economy.

He said his country "immensely benefited" from China`s "generosity in several areas, including the supply of agricultural materials, and food assistance where inclement weather has affected our harvests".

Once a breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe`s food shortages have been brought on by drought and Mugabe`s crippling land-reform programme.

In February, the European Union renewed sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle for another year, citing a lack of progress in implementing political and human rights reforms.

Bureau Report