Cowboy hats, cake and a cooler box: Mugabe's birthday highlights

2017-02-25 19:30
Robert Mugabe (File: AFP)

Robert Mugabe (File: AFP)

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Matobo - First Lady Grace Mugabe led thousands of revellers in singing Happy Birthday to her visibly tired husband, Zimbabwe's longtime ruler Robert Mugabe on Saturday at a party to mark his 93rd birthday that was heavily criticised by the opposition.

Here are some of the highlights of the party and Mugabe's speech:

Row over cake provider

Popular baker Lobels provided the main birthday cake, which, if previous years are anything to go by, weighed 93kg (one kg for every year of Mugabe's life). But news of the donation got some Zimbabweans hot under the collar, with calls for Lobels to be boycotted. Tweeted @ThisFlag1980, the official Twitter account of the protest movement started by pastor Evan Mawarire in 2016: "Thank you @LobelsBread for baking and pampering billionaires as children starve. #ThisFlag" There were several cakes: the main one appeared to be in the shape of Zimbabwe.

See picture of the cake below.

Wife's tribute

"President Mugabe is a very intelligent person who has a very sharp memory which like wine gets better with age." That was Grace Mugabe on her husband. She added: "He is very amazing in the manner in which he grasps issues." The first lady didn't look too happy with her speech-writer though: she had to read through a couple of sentences more than once.

Cowboy hats

This was a break with tradition: often Mugabe wears a cap to his birthday. This time he and his wife were wearing matching black cowboy-style hats. So was Mugabe's small grandson Simbarashe, who appeared in mother Bona's arms.

Grace's green apron

Gone was the flowery dress of Mugabe's 92nd birthday: this time Grace was wearing a much more party-loyal dress in black, green and red. With a small green apron marked Zanu-PF...

Police chief's cooler box

Zimbabwe's controversial police chief Augustine Chihuri arrived in style - with a big blue cooler box just visible in the back of his car. Was he ready to party?

Bond notes

Mugabe's speech was long and at times rambling: a couple of guards were caught on camera yawning. But he did touch on Zimbabwe's vexed question of bond notes, that paper "currency" that was introduced in November and is becoming more and more common as change. Many in Zimbabwe fear that the bond notes, once they're printed in bigger denominations, will go the same way as Zimbabwe's bearer cheques in the pre-2009 crisis and become worthless. But Mugabe said bond notes were "just a temporary thing". "We want you to bear with us because we had to adopt them for a shorter period," Mugabe said. Do we believe him?

And what's this about an extraordinary congress?

Mugabe insisted in his TV birthday interview that he didn't think the time had come yet for him to step down. Again on Saturday he insisted it wasn't up to him to choose a successor. ("That is what is called imposition. I don't want and I never will impose," the Herald quoted him as saying in a live blog). There was this interesting remark though from the president: "We can have an extraordinary congress if the president retires." Does this mean he might finally consider it? 

At this point, that's far from certain.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  grace mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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