No power to watch Mugabe's 92nd birthday bash

2016-02-18 22:34

Harare – Residents of 37 Harare townships will be without power on Sunday, President Robert Mubage’s 92nd birthday, the country’s power utility said on Thursday.

The cut from 06:00 to 18:00 was for scheduled maintenance work, the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution and Transmission Company said.

Mugabe's actual birthday was usually a low-key affair compared to his party, which was likely to be held next month.

In previous years, state TV had shown him enjoying a cake with members of his personal staff.

Parastatals, ministers, universities, and companies normally bought space in newspapers to wish the long-time president a happy day.

This year's festivities had however been overshadowed by Zanu-PF infighting. A faction close to his wife Grace was manoeuvring to take power once Mugabe died or stepped down.

On Thursday, riot police tear-gassed war veterans who had gathered in the capital to discuss their dissatisfaction with the first lady's growing influence.

Until now veterans of the 1970s war for independence had wielded immense power in Zimbabwe and only opposition supporters have had to face riot police.

But the veterans were linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who did not appear to have Mugabe’s, and most importantly, the first lady's, favour at the moment.

The state-owned ZBC broadcaster quoted war veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa as saying they would go to court to challenge the violation of their constitutional right to hold meetings.

Trevor Ncube, the owner of Zimbabwe's Alpha Media Holdings and South Africa's Mail&Guardian tweeted: "The one thing President #Mugabe has been able to do over the years is hold Zanu-PF together. That glue is coming undone."

Mugabe was seen meeting a visiting delegation of US congressmen in Harare on Monday. Since then he had kept a low profile.

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