SW Radio Africa (London)

14 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Another Birthday Bash for Mugabe

President Mugabe's interview on the eve of his 90th birthday. ( Resource: President Mugabe's Interview on the Eve of His 90th Birthday

Yet another party to celebrate President Robert Mugabe turning 90 years of age last month was held Friday in Harare with more than 1,000 people thought to have attended.

A statement released this week by the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Mariyawanda Nzuwah, said the luncheon would be hosted by the service commissioners of defence, prisons and the police. Nzuwah said the luncheon would be held to honour Mugabe for 'the vital role he played in delivering political and economic freedom.'

According to reports, last month's bash, during which 90 beasts were slaughtered, cost more than $1 million. That was to be followed a few weeks later by Mugabe's daughter Bona's wedding which reportedly cost $5 million.

On the first occasion, few journalists from the independent media were admitted while none were allowed into the second event which was held at Mugabe's house in Borrowdale. On Friday a number of journalists told SW Radio Africa that they did not bother themselves this time around.

It came as a shock that the government is capable of such extravagance at a time when it is struggling to pay civil servants. According to Nzuwah's statement, the celebrations were expected to be held not just in Harare but throughout the country, with 4,000 people expected to attend. Moreover, the government has reportedly just signed a deal with North Korea to build two statues of Mugabe at an estimated cost of $5 million.

These developments also come at a time when Zimbabwe is reported to have loan arrears of $11 billion and has just lost a hoped-for bailout from China. The government is also struggling to assist victims of flooding which hit the country recently and has stopped its funding for school children from poor homes.

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