Mugabe feels 9 as he celebrates 90th birthday

2014-02-24 08:42

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Harare – Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, celebrating his 90th birthday before thousands of people at a soccer stadium yesterday, said he felt like a young boy.

He also urged the nation to shun homosexuality.

“I feel as youthful and energetic as a boy of nine,” said Mugabe, at the event in Marondera, 75km east of Harare. More than 45 000 people gathered at the stadium, said organisers from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

Mugabe gave his trademark clenched fist salute to the crowd as he and his wife, Grace, stood at the back of a truck that drove around the stadium. Mugabe holds a giant birthday party in a different city each year to take the festivities around the country.

He cut a 90kg cake, one of five cakes served, and 90 cows were slaughtered for the massive party, estimated to cost $41 million (R45 million).

Mugabe’s actual birthday was on February 21 but he was away in Singapore for a “cataract operation” on his left eye, according to his office. He returned to Zimbabwe on Saturday.

Mugabe claimed to be as “fit as a fiddle”, in an interview broadcast on state television, although at times he appeared frail. Yesterday he looked robust, speaking to the crowd for an hour.

“We don’t accept homosexuality here. God made men and women so they can bear children,” Mugabe said.

In the birthday broadcast, Mugabe insisted he was not ready to retire.

“Why should it [retirement] be discussed when it is not due?” he said in an interview broadcast on state television. “The leadership still exists that runs the country. In other words I am still there ... When the day comes and I retire ... I do not want to leave my party in tatters. I want to leave it intact.”

Mugabe claimed he was the harbinger of good tidings for the nation as the country has been soaked with rains around his birthday.

“My mother told me I was born during a year of plenty, in a year of a good harvest. Now we see rains coming down as I turn 90, this is going to be a year of good harvests,” he said.

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