from NDABENI MLOTHSWA in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
BULAWAYO – PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe 93rd birthday celebration has left a trail of anger among Zimbabwe’s opposition, rights groups and villagers forced to bankroll the lavish ceremony.
Prior to the birthday celebrations held in the southern Matobo on Saturday, schools in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, were forced to close in order to provide accommodation to over 100 000 Zanu PF supporters bused from the country’s ten provinces.
Villagers were forced to donate cattle each.
Matobo is among the areas worst affected by the atrocities of the 1980s when government unleashed a crackdown that claimed the lives of over 20 000 civilians during anti-bandit operations by the army.
Opposition parties and pressure groups questioned the closure of schools at the expense of children’s education.
Transparency International Zimbabwe, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Tajamuka/Sesijikile and Zimbabwe National Students’ Union expressed concern.
“We collectively question the evident abuse of power and office to secure resources from schools and companies towards the 21st February Movement celebrations,” the groups stated yesterday (Monday).
Zanu PF secretary for youth affairs, Kudzai Chipanga, dismissed the organisations as foreign-sponsored and anti-government.
He said the party valued Mugabe’s birthday in a significant way like Christians value the birth of Jesus.
“We cannot afford to see the day just passing, hence, we also want it to be declared a national holiday. We are happy the government is looking at our request and we are looking forward to a National Youth Day,” Chipanga said.
At the party, Mugabe reiterated he would not succumb to pressure from within and outside the party to quit and hand over to a successor.
“I will be watching closely to see who among us is capable of defending our land reform. Otherwise, we don’t want weak leaders to betray the revolution,” said Mugabe.
– CAJ News