President Robert Mugabe today celebrates his 87th birthday amid reports of increasing health problems and mounting calls for his resignation.
Many broke government ministries splashed on full color advertisements in the state-controlled Herald newspaper congratulating Mr Mugabe on his birthday.
President Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980. Many of his colleagues and friends have since retired from active politics or passed on.
These include Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda, Mozambiqu’es Samora Machel and Joachim Chissano, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and the late Dr Kamuzu Banda of Malawi. Among those that took out huge space in the Herald was the local government, rural and urban development ministry.
There were widespread reports of youth militia forcing people to donate for celebrations to mark Mr Mugabe’s birthday. The celebrations will be held this week on Saturday.
The independent Newsday reports that there was chaos in Mbare yesterday as ZANU-PF supporters forced market traders to close their stalls and force-marched them to a rally to celebrate Mr Mugabe’s birthday.
The youths reportedly dished out t-shirts bearing images of President Mugabe, inscribed with messages saying he would be ZANU-PF’s presidential candidate for elections expected to be called later this year.
The youths, carrying a banner written “celebrating 87 years — happy birthday Gushungo” - marched in their hundreds and sang ZANU-PF songs. According to a Newsday reporter, even the destroyed offices of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Tsvangirai in Mbare were also “decorated” with the posters of President Mugabe.
Senior political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe John Makumbe told Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere its business as usual in the country as there’s not much excitement over the President’s birthday.
Meanwhile, political analyst Livingston Dzikira said President Mugabe has been quote “amazing”, managing to govern the country in his old age and outwitting political opponents both in his party and outside.
Dzikira, who’s also the director of the Zimbabwe Youth Council, said reports that President Mugabe has health issues are the machinations of the media.