Countrymen shower Mugabe with accolades
He is an “iconic leader, statesman and visionary”; he is “a living role model of self-sacrifice and patriotism”; he is a “humble, consistent leader”; he is an “examplary man” who is “worth emulating”; his leadership has been one of “tolerance and the pursuit of unity and development”.
These were just some of the accolades showered on Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe this week as he celebrated his 92nd birthday. About 50 000 people were transported to Masvingo in buses, trucks and private vehicles for an organised party.
Zanu-PF leaders said 54 cattle and 300kg of game had been provided for the party, which is being held in the midst an economic crisis that has been exacerbated by a crippling drought.
This economic crisis, which many blame on government’s policies, did little to douse spirits in Masvingo as children sang songs and recited poetry praising Mugabe and condemning the West.
Dubbed Youth Celebrating an African Icon though Enhanced Productivity, the event was held at the Great Zimbabwe ruins and culminated in a music festival.
Masvingo provincial leader Jeppy Jaboon told the Bulawayo Chronicle that the organising committee had pulled out all the stops to celebrate an “African icon”, whose achievements included being Southern African Development Community chair and African Union chair.
Zanu-PF Youth Secretary Puparai Togarepi praised Mugabe for his leadership on international platforms.
The birthday boy himself used his time at the microphone to berate warring members of his party, who are engaged in a vicious battle over who will succeed him. While deputy president Emmerson Mnangagwa has pole position, he is now being challenged by a faction headed by First Lady Grace Mugabe.
She has used public platforms to lambaste Mnangagwa and even hinted that he may be collaborating with some military chiefs to undermine her and her husband. Yesterday, Mugabe moved to defend his wife, saying it was “unbecoming the way the president’s wife has been abused”.
A Mugabe speech is never complete without the mandatory attack on gay people and Western powers. Accusing the US and the UK of interfering in Zimbabwean affairs and being responsible for the country’s economic hardship, he told the two countries to keep their aid if it was going to be used to force Zimbabwe to bow to their whims.
“If aid is going to be given on the principle that we accept gay marriages, then let that aid stay where it is. It is rotten aid,” he was quoted as saying by The Herald.
– Staff reporter