HARARE - The opposition has slammed plans to throw an $800 000 92nd birthday bash for President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe turns 92 on February 21.
The ruling Zanu PF is holding what is expected to be one of its biggest celebrations for the latest anniversary of its ruling party’s creation, an attention-grabbing event that is the government’s way of showing the world and its own people that Mugabe is firmly in control and a power to be reckoned with.
The spectacle, scheduled for drought-torn Masvingo Province, promises to be the most elaborate since the veteran Marxist assumed power at independence in 1980, and all indicators suggest the party could be the country’s biggest ever.
Mugabe is expected back home on Saturday after a month-long vacation in the Far East.
Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC said: “Zanu PF should be utterly ashamed of hosting an expensive birthday bash for its aging ruler whilst more than 90 percent of Zimbabweans are wallowing in grinding poverty caused by decades of Robert Mugabe’s misrule and mismanagement of the economy.”
“The money that is being budgeted for this ill-conceived birthday bash should actually be used to import maize to avert the impending starvation in Masvingo Province and other parts of the country,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said yesterday.
“But then, this is vintage Zanu PF! Since when has the crumbling and faction-ridden Zanu PF regime genuinely cared about the welfare of the majority of the people? This is a kleptocracy gone crazy.’’
The smaller opposition MDC led by Welshman Ncube said to have a president luxuriating for a month in paradise while the country embarks on a season of massive pain was bad enough, to have an $800 000 birthday bash thrown in his honour soon after is the biggest slap in the face of suffering Zimbabweans.
“It is clear that president Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have no compunction about draining the little that people still have in order for him, his family and the top chefs in government to live the life of royalty,” MDC national spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said
“When the government claims it is broke and failing to pay teachers, nurses and doctors on time, industries operating below 30 percent capacity utilisation, unemployment rate reaching an unprecedented 90 percent, the majority of the population living below the poverty datum line, the national debt is above $10 billion and growing, it is incomprehensible that one man can still be gobbling up huge amounts of money on foreign travel, vacations and birthday gigs.
“It is beyond us how the president and his cronies in Zanu PF sleep at night.
The unabashed luxuriousness and self-indulgence demonstrated by the first family reflects a tone-deafness with regard to the pressing concerns and needs of millions of Zimbabweans.”
Chihwayi said it appears that the first family and the top dogs in Zanu PF and government were living a life quite detached from the daily realities of the suffering millions.
“This birthday bash would appear in some cruel twisted way to be the sad reincarnation of French King Louis XVI’s wife, Marie Antoinette’s famous proclamation, ‘Let them eat cake…’. They are living in a make-believe world where things are normal, and all this at a time Zimbabweans are desperate for a sign that the national leadership is sensitive to their plight,” he said.
“What we are witnessing in Zanu PF and government is leadership that is rotten to the core and it is unfortunate that as president Mugabe celebrates his 92 years, he will be celebrating a legacy of greed and moral shamelessness.”