Mugabe celebrates 92nd birthday in grand style

Mugabe celebrates 92nd birthday in grand style

- Robert Mugabe has celebrated his 92nd birthday in grand style

- Opposition has criticized Mugabe's spending on his birthday, while parts of the country face  famine

- Mr. Mugabe has declined help from the UN for aid.

Mugabe celebrates 92nd birthday in grand style

Mugabe and wife standing by the birthday cake

Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe has celebrated his 92 birthday at a lavish ceremony which is estimated to cost almost $800,000 (£575,000).

The party which was held in the south eastern city of Masvingo was televised and featured schoolchildren reading poetry about the president. Mugabe 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.

Mugabe celebrates 92nd birthday in grand style

Children read poetry praising Mr Mugabe as a visionary at the event

According to the government-owned newspaper, the Herald, Mugabe In his speech, attacked Western donors, and said he would not accept "rotten, filthy" aid if it was contingent on Zimbabwe accepting same-sex marriages.

But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has criticized the celebrations, calling it "ill-conceived" and obscene A spokesman for the party, Obert Gutu, said money used for the event should be used to import maize "to avert the impending starvation" in Masvingo and other areas.

Mugabe celebrates 92nd birthday in grand style

Another picture of the birthday cake

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."

However, a youth leader for the ruling Zanu-PF party defended the birthday celebrations, saying one cannot put a price on the contribution of President Mugabe to the history and development of this nation.

Mugabe celebrates 92nd birthday in grand style

A picture of the birthday card for Mr. Mugabe

The UN's World Food Programme 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.

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Zimbabwe has faced severe economic challenges in recent years, which critics blame on policies including the seizures and redistribution of white-owned farms in 2000. Mr Mugabe has dominated Zimbabwe politics since independence from the UK in 1980 has blamed his country's economic troubles on Western meddling.

Robert Mugabe is a veteran leader who has presided over Zimbabwe for the past three decades. He was born in 1924 in the village of Kutama, south-west of the capital Harare. Educated by Jesuits and went on to become a teacher before joining the liberation struggle against British rule.

He became a key figure in the fight for independence from white minority-rule as leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union, and spent 11 years in prison before becoming Zimbabwe's first post-independence prime minister in 1980.

In December 2015, Mr Mugabe was endorsed once more as the ruling party candidate for the 2018 presidential elections but media continue to speculate about a potential successor.

 

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