Oh Happy Day!
‘Senseless’: Robert Mugabe’s birthday celebration cost Â£330,000
The Â£330,000 televised feast to celebrate the Zimbabwe president’s 86th birthday came as crop failure and drought raised the prospect of widespread hunger in the poverty-stricken country.
Mugabe’s political opponents, the Movement for Democratic Change, said the food served was enough to feed 50 villages.
The MDC branded the 12-hour all-night gala a ‘senseless extravagance’.
Also on the menu were 200lb of prawns and 500 bottles of whisky.
Guests at the party in Bulawayo were entertained by a Jamaican reggae star flown in specially and more than 30 musicians.
The revelry began at 6pm and was not due to wind up until 6am. The Zimbabwean leader celebrated his birthday last Sunday and has already attended a number of parties, including one at the Chinese embassy in the capital Harare.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for 30 years and overseen the country’s economic collapse.
He had expected taxpayers to pay for the party but had to go cap in hand to corporate supporters and friendly embassies when the MDC finance minister refused.
An MDC spokesman said the celebrations were inappropriate as the country braced itself for a tough harvest with an 11 per cent maize crop failure caused by a prolonged dry spell.
He said: ‘It is not progressive for any Zimbabwean to join this senseless fray as the country faces imminent drought.
‘It is lavish, careless and extravagant on the part of the organisers that they dedicate Â£330,000 to one person, an amount which could feed 50 villages.
‘It is absolutely self-centred for someone to try to nationalise a birthday. MDC members will not be part of this circus.’
Last week the EU voted to continue sanctions on Zimbabwe for another year, citing a ‘lack of progress’ in implementing a power-sharing deal.
The sanctions are mainly targeted at senior ZanuPF figures and involve asset freezes as well as arms and travel embargos.