Meat and merriment at Mugabe’s 91st birthday bash

2015-03-01 15:00

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Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe yesterday celebrated his 91st birthday in style with 2?000 guests, kilograms of elephant, buffalo and other meat and four different cakes.

One of the cakes was baked in the shape of Mugabe’s face. The real – rather than the baked – Mugabe wore a pinstriped dark suit, a white shirt and red tie. He was flanked at the elegant Elephant Falls Resort near the Victoria Falls by his wife Grace and daughter Bona. The latter wore a dress featuring her father’s face, while Grace Mugabe – whom many of Mugabe’s detractors suspect will become his deputy president soon – looked elegant in red and black.

The lavish bash came after an expensive dinner on Friday night at the resort. Several companies donated money to pay for the event, and also paid $10?000 (R116?000) per table at the dinner. Friday night’s four-course meal included starters and traditional Zimbabwean vegetarian dishes.

There were sharp intakes of breath all around when Mugabe stumbled slightly as he walked to his seat at the main table yesterday. But he did not fall, unlike the moment captured by video cameras at Harare International Airport early last month, which exposed him to worldwide ridicule.

He was joined at the top table by Zanu-PF vice-presidents Phekezela Mphoko and Emmerson Mnangagwa, and his wife and daughter.

Groups of school pupils, university students and Zanu-PF supporters joined the celebrations.

The high table was flanked by a small tent to the left, which housed the cakes. Another tent, decorated in black and red, housed diplomats from elsewhere in Africa and members of Zanu-PF’s powerful politburo.

“As youths, we could donate, each one of us, about a day of our lives and give it to the president so that he lives longer,” said Zanu-PF youth league leader Pupurai Togarepi in a speech to the delegates.

“The youths would like to thank you Amai [mother] Grace Mugabe for exposing Amai Mujuru [former vice-president Joyce] for attempting to overthrow President Mugabe,” said Togarepi.

Last year, Mugabe purged more than 20 ministers for allegedly leading an internal revolt and trying to replace him with Mujuru.

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