Zimbabwe Leader’s Birthday Party Criticized

Zimbabwe Leader’s Birthday Party CriticizedZimbabwe Leader’s Birthday Party Criticized

Zimbabwe’s ruling party has been criticized for hosting lavish 92nd birthday celebrations for President Robert Mugabe while swathes of the population face food shortages. The event reportedly cost almost $800,000.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change called the celebrations “obscene”, BBC reported.

Mugabe has dominated Zimbabwe politics since independence from the UK in 1980.

The event, which was televised and featured schoolchildren reading poetry about the president, was held in the drought-stricken southeastern city of Masvingo.

The elderly leader, accompanied by his wife Grace, released 92 balloons to kick off the event at the Great Zimbabwe monument, with tens of thousands of people attending.

Money used for the event should be used to import maize “to avert the impending starvation” in Masvingo and other areas, said Obert Gutu, an MDC spokesman.

Eddie Cross, an MP for the MDC said: “The obscenity of this particular exercise is that he throws this bash not just based on public funds ... but he does it in one of the worst-affected drought-stricken parts of the country.”

The UN’s World Food Program said food production had fallen by half compared to a year earlier, because of severe drought.

The government said about three million people were food insecure and earlier this month it asked for nearly $1.6 billion in aid.

Gutu said the ruling Zanu-PF “should be utterly ashamed” for hosting the costly celebration while “more than 90% of Zimbabweans are wallowing in grinding poverty”.