Zimbabwe leader’s lavish birthday party criticised

Harare, Feb 28 (IANS) Zimbabwe’s ruling party has been criticised for hosting a lavish 92nd birthday celebrations for President Robert Mugabe, the world’s oldest leader, while majority of the country’s population face food shortages.

The event held on Saturday reportedly cost almost $800,000, BBC reported.

The leader, accompanied by his wife Grace, released 92 balloons to start the event at the Great Zimbabwe monument in the drought-stricken south eastern city of Masvingo, with tens of thousands of people attending.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the celebrations were “ill-conceived”.

Money used for the event should be used to import maize “to avert the impending starvation” in Masvingo and other areas, said Obert Gutu, an MDC spokesman.

“The obscenity of this particular exercise is that he throws this bash not just based on public funds… but he does it in one of the worst-affected drought-stricken parts of the country,” an MDC MP said.

Gutu said the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) “should be utterly ashamed” for hosting the costly celebration while “more than 90 percent of the population are wallowing in grinding poverty”.

Mugabe has been serving as president of the southern African nation since December 22, 1987. He has led the ZANU-PF since 1975.

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