The ruling Zanu PF party has started preparations for President Robert Mugabe’s annual birthday bash next month with some reports indicating that the target for this year’s festivities is to raise $800,000 [about Shs2,778,400,000].
This has raised the ire of the opposition which says that money should have been put in better use to feed the hungry or pay government workers. Mr. Mugabe will be turning 92 on February 21st.
Ironically, the bash is going to be held in Masvingo, one of the country’s provinces hardest hit by drought.
The bash, also known as the 21st February Movement, is held annually in different cities and towns.
Last year it was held at the premier resort town of Victoria Falls.
Zanu PF Central Committee member, Joseph Tshuma told VOA Studio 7 even the money used for the bash should not worry anyone because it comes from donors and well-wishers.
Tshuma said: “Like any other birthday of any other person its a very important day when we celebrate the coming in of a life. Now like in this case the life of our president. His exemplary life that he has lived. He has lived a God-fearing life. Something that youths and everything else can emulate.”
Studio 7 also reached deputy spokesperson, Thabitha Khumalo of the Movement for Democratic Change, who said the celebration “is obscene at a time when thousands of people are going hungry”.
Party insiders revealed that the celebrations required at least $770 000, with Masvingo province expected to raise at least $100 000 for the annual bash.
The country’s other nine provinces would have to fork out $30 000 apiece to help with the preparations, while the national team headed by Zanu-PF Youth League Secretary Pupurayi Togarepi, would be expected to raise at least $400 000, the report said.
The organisers, the February 21 movement – a group established in 1986 to encourage Zimbabwean youths to emulate Mugabe’s “selfless character and leadership qualities” – vowed last week that it would pull all stop to make this year’s celebrations the biggest of the all.
“We’ve already started and as we speak we’re in the middle of preparing for the big event, we’ve already identified the venue and its Mucheke stadium,” ruling Zanu- PF Masvingo provincial chairperson, Ezra Chadzamira, was quoted as saying.