The President of Zimbabwean, Mr. Robert Mugabe, has celebrated his 93rd birthday with a lavish party on Saturday attended by thousands of loyalists.
The ruling Zanu-PF party hosted the event for President Mugabe, who has held power since 1980 during a reign marked by repression of dissent, vote-rigging and the country’s economic collapse.
Now the world’s oldest national leader, his actual birthday on Tuesday has been honoured in a week-long extravaganza with state media filled with tributes and praise.
The party — held in a large marquee decorated with portraits of a younger President Mugabe — included a feast and several vast birthday cakes, angering some Zimbabweans as the country endures severe food shortages.
One of cakes was shaped like President Mugabe’s official Mercedes Benz limousine.
Holding the event at a school in Matobo has also riled locals as it is close to where many victims of President Mugabe’s deadly crackdown on dissidents in the early 1980s are thought to be buried.
According to Africa Review, at least 20,000 people are believed to have been killed in the massacres by North Korean-trained Zimbabwean troops, according to rights groups.
“This should not be a place for celebration,” Mbuso Fuzwayo, spokesman for the Bulawayo-based campaign group Ibhetshu Likazulu, told AFP.
“The whole area is a crime scene where the bones of victims of the massacres are buried.”
President Mugabe gave a faltering television interview this week, vowing to remain in power despite growing signs of frailty.
During the pre-recorded birthday broadcast, President Mugabe paused at length between sentences and spoke with his eyes barely open.
The call to step down must come from my party,” he said.
“If I feel that I can’t do it any more, I will say so to my party so that they relieve me. But for now, I think I can’t say so.”