Coun­try­men shower Mu­gabe with ac­co­lades

CityPress - - News -

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

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