Several birthday parties planned for Mugabe, 91

2015-02-21 15:45
Robert Mugabe (AP)

Robert Mugabe (AP)

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Harare - President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 35 years, celebrated his 91st birthday on Saturday as supporters prepared a party at Victoria Falls at which two elephants are to be slaughtered.

Several parties are planned for the president, including one Saturday night in Harare. The main event, however, will be next Saturday at a luxury hotel and golf course at the falls, on the border with Zambia.

About 20 000 guests are expected at the event.

"We are going to ensure that the wonder of Zimbabwe celebrates his 91st birthday where one of the wonders of the world is," Innocent Hamandishe, an official in Mugabe's Zanu-PF party who is leading the celebrations, told state television.

Mugabe has long faced criticism for repression of the opposition, economic mismanagement and heading one of the most corrupt governments in the world, according to Transparency International.

But the ritual in his honour involving the slaughter of elephants at the party have drawn further fire.

'I'm totally disgusted'

Johnny Rodrigues, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, described the plan as "totally unethical".

"I am totally disgusted by the news," he said. "We claim to have the best conservationist policies in the world, but our president does not set a good example. How can he talk of anti-poaching when he is allowing this to happen?"

Tendai Musasa, who heads the Woodlands Conservancy in Victoria Falls, said he donated the elephants for slaughter because "it speaks volumes about how I hold the president in high esteem".

Mugabe's birthday fell a day after the European Union extended a travel ban and asset freeze against the man who has led Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from Britain.

Africa's oldest leader and his wife, Grace, have been under EU sanctions since 2002 when Brussels accused him of human rights abuses and rigging elections.

Mugabe has dismissed the accusations, accusing the West of trying to blacken his rule and policies, which include the confiscation of white-owned farms.

Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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