In Brief

Mugabe plans 90th birthday party as millions starve

Celebrations expected to cost £600,000 as millions of Zimbabweans go hungry

ROBERT MUGABE'S 90th birthday party is expected to surpass even last year's lavish celebrations despite the country's continuing economic woes.

The event, which is expected to cost more than £600,000, comes as heavy job losses cause pain across the country and at a time when more than two million Zimbabweans are in need of famine relief.

Last year, special-edition gold coins were minted for Mugabe's 89th birthday and he was presented with a cake the size of a bed, weighing 89kg. A £125,000 football tournament was held in his honour and the governor of the nation's central bank gave him 89 cows as a present, reports The Times.

As Mugabe turns 90 tomorrow, his Zanu-PF party has insisted the landmark birthday is an opportunity to celebrate the life of a "very special person on a very special occasion". But activists have described it as an extravagant waste of money.

Dewa Mavhinga, a Zimbabwe researcher at Human Rights Watch, told The Guardian that it would be "inappropriate for a country's head of state to have such a lavish and costly celebration at a time when the country is faced with the disaster of flooding and a crumbling economy".

Officially, funds for the party are being raised by the Zanu-PF youth league and not from the public purse. But Tendai Biti of the opposition MDC, who was finance minister until his party lost heavily to Zanu-PF in disputed elections last year, said he has "absolutely no doubt that they will get money from the treasury".

Local media claim youth league officials have also been demanding cash from members of the public, including police officers and teachers.

Mugabe, the oldest head of state in Africa, travelled to Singapore this week, reportedly for cataract surgery on his left eye. He is expected to return in time for the birthday celebration with thousands of supporters at the Rudhaka stadium in the town of Marondera on Sunday.

Recommended

A guide to Elon Musk’s big family
Elon Musk
Profile

A guide to Elon Musk’s big family

Sarina Wiegman: England’s ‘one of a kind’ supercoach
Keeper Mary Earps and the England players gatecrashed Sarina Wiegman’s press conference
Profile

Sarina Wiegman: England’s ‘one of a kind’ supercoach

The Wagatha Christie libel case: a timeline
Coleen Rooney
In Depth

The Wagatha Christie libel case: a timeline

Inside Chequers: the country estate where Boris Johnson held his ‘farewell bash’
External view of Chequers
In Depth

Inside Chequers: the country estate where Boris Johnson held his ‘farewell bash’

Popular articles

Will China invade Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

Will China invade Taiwan?

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Best new TV crime dramas of 2022
Roger Allam and Nancy Carroll in Murder in Provence
In Depth

Best new TV crime dramas of 2022

The Week Footer Banner