Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe will hold a big bash on Saturday, expected to cost more than US$1 million, in celebration of his birthday.
He turned 93 on Tuesday. Thousands of Zanu-PF dignitaries and party supporters are expected to attend the bash at Rhodes Estate Preparatory School in Matobo district, Matabeleland South province.
In a pre-recorded interview that was broadcast on the state-run ZBC-TV on his birthday, Tuesday, President Mugabe reiterated his intention to stay in office, saying that he will continue to serve his party, including contesting in the 2018 presidential election, because his party has asked him to.
"They (Zanu-PF) want me to stand for elections,” President Mugabe said. “If I feel that I can't do it any more, I will say so to my party so that they relieve me. But for now, I think I can't say so.”
In his farewell speech before the African Union after ending his chairmanship in 2015, Mr. Mugabe said he would only leave office when “God says come.”
While many of Mr. Mugabe’s supporters endorse his candidacy and celebrate his long life, many Zimbabweans harbor feelings of unease at his continued leadership, given the deteriorating state of the economy.
In various interviews sourced by AFPTV, several residents expressed outrage at Mr. Mugabe’s continued leadership.
One woman who did not give her name, said she does not believe the President is effectively running the country.
"He is not fit to rule this country, so we cannot say President Mugabe is the one ruling this country,” the woman said. “He is no longer the one ruling this country."
Another Harare resident, who also did not want to be named, said there is little progress in the country during President Mugabe 36-year rule.
"Mugabe has been ruling for the past years but he has delivered nothing to his citizens,” the unnamed man said. “Up until today Zimbabweans are suffering."
Political analyst and chair of the regional think tank, Southern African Political Economy Series (SAPES) Trust, Ibbo Mandaza, said based on President Mugabe’s recent interview, he has concluded that Mr. Mugabe wants to die in office, and is therefore not planning to retire.
But Mandaza said public support for the president is waning and could spark unrest.
"People are angry and people could be looking for an opportunity to vent out their anger and its very easy to see how that can develop very easily," Mandaza said.
(Interviews conducted by AFPTV)