It is reported that the budget for the event is a cool US $1m, mainly raised by cronies who will no doubt be jostling to be front of the queue to wish their supreme leader many happy returns.
There have been reports that poor villagers throughout the country are being forced to donate money and goods. The leader of the Progressive Teachers’ Union, Raymond Majongwe, has said teachers throughout the country were forced to contribute up to $10 towards the feast, which 20,000 people are expected to attend.
On the menu will be two elephants, two buffaloes, two sable antelopes, five impalas and a lion kindly donated by a local farmer.
In the meantime, Zimbabwe’s economy continues to tumble, with growth expectations for 2015 being whittled down to between 1-2% by critics while the finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, expects the economy to grow at 3.4% for the same period. Clearly this will not be achievable given the expected slowdown in international commodity prices.
However, the economy seems far off the mind of those within the Zanu-PF party, as the focus is on the first lady’s return from holiday and Mugabe’s big birthday bash.
Grace Mugabe’s recent return from a two-month break in east Asia, where she supposedly was resting after an appendix removal operation, preceded some high-level expulsions from the party. More purges, and more boot-licking, are expected to follow, with Mugabe’s bash presenting an excellent and timely opportunity for the latter.
For many Zimbabweans, there is nothing to celebrate, and opposition parties have condemned such decadence in an economy that is teetering on the edge of disaster. Exasperation with the economic and social conditions can be felt in the air in Harare among the thousands whose only concern is a decent meal.
You can sense the hopelessness of the poor masses. Yet among them are Zanu-PF diehards who will probably be celebrating Mugabe’s feat of reaching 91, despite their own shameful life conditions.
According to a recent local report on living standards, Zimbabwe social indicators have regressed to 1960 levels, while company closures continue unabated amid estimates that nearly 40 companies are currently undergoing either judicial management or liquidation. It is a catastrophe on an unprecedented level.
Clearly, Mugabe does not care. And even if he did, he doesn’t have the energy or wherewithal to deal with the myriad economic and social problems he has created under his dictatorship.
We are faced with few options to get out of this self-created rut. One option that is gaining acceptance within the opposition movement and civic bodies is the forced resignation of this government and its replacement by a transitional technical body that gets things back on track. However, this is unlikely to happen given Zanu-PF’s history of denial and incomprehensible arrogance.
There is no doubt that Mugabe will be president for life. And although many are hoping this will be his last birthday in office, I’m not banking on it.
Source: The Guardian