Nonagenarian Zimbabwe President Robert Gabriel Mugabe wants his birthday, which falls on February 21, declared a public holiday.
Media reports indicate that the 92-year old Mugabe, without elaboration, made the announcement at celebrations to mark his birthday yesterday, during festivities held a the Great Zimbabwe Monument in Masvingo, a run down city in the south east of the country that was declared a disaster area following a severe drought.
At the same occasion Mugabe, whose wife Grace has recently started showing interest in affairs of state by addressing rallies on behalf of the ZANU-PF Women League, reportedly took swipe at the party youth who have challenged his wife’s recent behavior, saying they must be disciplined.
“It is shameful the way Mrs. Mugabe is being criticized,” he said, accusing them of leaking scandals to the press. “Who may be the enemy among us?” Mugabe reportedly said.
Mugabe, who has ruled for 30 years since 1980, let 92 balloons into the air to start the festivities, which included school children performing military drills and reciting poetry praising Mugabe and criticizing western nations.
The event, dubbed the 21st February Movement after Mugabe’s actual birthday, has been held since 1986. Earlier in the week the Zimbabwean president marked his birthday in smaller celebrations that included blowing out candles on a multi-tiered cake with gold frosting surrounded by his family and a gala dinner attended the country’s elite.
The opposition has criticized the celebrations as insensitive to the many Zimbabweans facing hunger due to drought and a struggling economy.