Opposition politicians and human rights groups are fiercely criticizing President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe over plans for a lavish celebration of his 90th birthday.
Mugabe turns 90 on Friday but he is due to return to Zimbabwe on Sunday after undergoing eye surgery in Singapore. Thousands of supporters are expected to turn up on the day at Rudhaka stadium in the town of Marondera to pay tribute, the Guardian reports. But complaints are flying that the event will be an immense waste of money in a country suffering from rampant inflation and high unemployment. Funds for the celebration are officially supposed to be generated through Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, but former Zimbabwean politicians have claimed money for his previous birthdays was taken directly from the treasury.
Dewa Mavhinga, a Human Rights Watch research, described the upcoming celebrations as being about “cultism, hero-worship and institutionalizing Mugabe, with sycophants around him trying to oil the wheels of patronage,” the Guardian reports.
Absalom Sikhosana, a Zanu-PF official, said “turning 90 is no mean feat,” and that the country will be “celebrating the life of a very special person.”