Thousands of people were yesterday treated to a lavish party in Victoria Falls to mark President Robert Mugabe’s 91st birthday where he was hero-worshipped and urged to rule until he dies.
by Richard Muponde /Thandiwe Moyo
The bash, where Mugabe announced a new wave of land invasions, lived up to its billing as the most expensive celebration since the 21st February Movement, which organises Mugabe’s birthday, was launched in 1986.
The over $1,2 million bash was characterised by pomp and fanfare with eight cakes baked for the function and several beasts killed, including elephants and buffaloes.
Some of the cakes were so huge that it took several men just to lift them up.
The over 20 000 people present were treated to live entertainment, with musicians such as Slizer of Botswana singing a special dedication song to Mugabe.
Mugabe’s bash was a show of money, power and latest designs as delegates were elegantly dressed to spice up the otherwise well-organised event.
Latest vehicles were also on parade, many of them off-road vehicles imprinted with Mugabe’s portrait and that of his wife, Grace.
A couple identified as Pastors Makwanda donated to President Mugabe a black vintage Ford Montero, a 1955 model with number plate, RGM 1963.
President Mugabe’s first car was of that make in the 1950s.
An elephant was also on the menu after Tendai Musasa of Woodlands conservancy donated an elephant, buffaloes and other game valued over at $100 000.
A train carrying over 1 600 people was also chartered to bring people from Bulawayo to the resort town.
Mugabe was pampered by over 90 beasts donated as gifts by the party’s 10 provincial structures and a number of goats and sheep in excess of 50.
One of the cakes on display resembled the bespectacled Mugabe, while the others had shapes ranging from Great Zimbabwe, a football pitch with a ball in the nets, inscribed Bhora Mugedhi and the Zimbabwean flag.
Zanu PF youth league secretary, Pupurai Togarepi urged Parliament to amend the constitution to allow Mugabe to rule for life.
“President Mugabe must be allowed to rule for as long as he lives,” Togarepi said.
He commended First Lady, Grace Mugabe for spearheading the ouster of former vice- President Joice Mujuru.
In his address, Mugabe announced a new wave of land invasions targeting safaris and the remaining white-owned farms.
Mugabe, who was elegantly dressed in a black suit and red tie, said a recent audit showed whites still controlled vast tracts of land .
“On Monday I was talking to the minister of Lands looking at all the provinces to see how many farms are owned by white farmers. In Mashonaland East there are 163 farms owned by white farmers who were hidden by Ray Kaukonde,” he said.
“We want to see how many farms owned by white farmers were hidden. We will also go to all provinces to check on the number. Ministers were receiving reports from provincial chairpersons that there were no more farms. That’s a lie. Whites are the owners of sugar plantations, coffee plantations.”
Mugabe said there were so many safaris owned by white people and his government will take them and redistribute them to blacks.
He said the United States should remove sanctions if the country wanted white nationals to continue owning safaris.
“Our region has the highest number of safaris. We are going to invade those forests. We can’t have our people suffer from sanctions when our land is occupied by American people. If they want to be our friends they should be so in toto. They can’t have it both ways,” he said.
Mugabe again revealed that his cabinet ministers and other top government officials were corrupt and demanded bribes from investors.
He said some of his top lieutenants demanded payment from investors to facilitate meetings with him.
Mugabe again claimed Mujuru performed rituals, including with Nigerians, in an effort to kill him using supernatural powers.
He alleged at one occasion Mujuru was stark naked while the Nigerians beheaded chickens that represented him and his wife.
As if he wanted to spite his critics who want him to resign due to old age and ill health, a lively Mugabe spent about 1hr 45 minutes addressing the crowd which had gathered for his birthday bash at the Elephant Hills hotel golf course.
Speculation has been high that Mugabe was not feeling well after he fell at the Harare International airport early last month and he later sneaked out of the country only to return accompanying his wife Grace, raising speculation that he had gone out to seek medication.
Grace was recovering from an operation she underwent in December in the Far East.
The celebrations were held under the theme, celebrating the birth of Gushungo, the icon of Zimbabwe’s revolution and champion of youth empowerment.