Robert Mugabe is the world’s oldest national leader and as he turns 93 today, birthday boy Robert Mugabe may be showing signs physically of slowing down but he will not be stopped in his bid to rule Zimbabwe.
Birthday boy Robert Mugabe celebrated his 93rd birthday with his staff in a private ceremony in Harare, a far cry from the full blown national scale celebration that greeted the day last year. The state media did not, however, have a shortfall of goodwill messages and congratulations, sent in from different corners, to share.
The President in a pre-recorded television interview broadcast late Monday seemed to rehash his intent to stay and rule Zimbabwe for as long as possible. The interview showed in glaring detail just how frail the President had become as he paused lengthily between sentences and spoke with his eyes barely open. His words, however, belied that reality;
“The call to step down must come from my party… In such circumstances I will step down,”
“They want me to stand for elections… 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.”
“The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement — a successor who to them is acceptable.”
The words of the President likewise belies the reality of a Zimbabwe that has in recent times been swallowed by protests. The President continuing the interview, spoke about creating jobs in Zimbabwe’s wrecked economy, his wife and Zimbabwe’s cash shortage.
On his wife, birthday boy Robert Mugabe spoke on her acceptance by Zimbabweans, stating that;
“She is very acceptable. Very much accepted by the people,”
Grace Mugabe, contrary to the President’s words, is often highly criticised by Zimbabweans but has remained one of Mugabe’s most loyal supporters. On Friday, she had declared that President Mugabe would be the voters’ choice even after he dies. She has been appointed head of the ZANU-PF women’s wing and so could possibly suceed Mugabe in the event of his stepping down or death.
The lack of a big celebration for birthday boy Robert Mugabe today is not to be mistaken for a new tack by the government to respect the country’s current economic situation. President Mugabe’s main birthday celebrations are meant to be held on Saturday at Matobo National Park outside Bulawayo, where thousands of officials and ZANU-PF faithful are expected to gather.
President Mugabe’s main birthday celebrations are meant to be held on Saturday at Matobo National Park outside Bulawayo, where thousands of officials and ZANU-PF faithfuls are expected to gather.