Plans had been made to slaughter two elephants for Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s 91st birthday party, but it turned out the hotel had no fridge space for such large cuts of meat. As IOL so aptly put it, the elephant was most definitely in the room, but luckily not on anybody’s plate.
The $1.3 million birthday bash was held at the Elephant Hills Hotel at Victoria Falls Saturday.
What was supposed to happen was a Zanu PF supporter, one Tendai Musasa, had promised Mugabe he would kill a couple of elephants, a buffalo or two, and even maybe a crocodile for the birthday dinner. Musasa apparently farms on disputed game land in the region and many people were up in arms at the idea.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Plans to Celebrate His Birthday by Eating Elephant & Lion Meat! http://t.co/OzvinzZoIh via @TakePart
— Chris C (@wininmad) February 22, 2015
Musasa had apparently also promised to shoot a lion, then stuff and mount it as a gift for his president. However, apparently nothing further was heard, and the National Parks and Wildlife officials in Harare said they were “monitoring the situation.” They said no one would be allowed to shoot any animals without a permit, even if it was for the president’s birthday.
— smh.com.au (@smh) February 28, 2015
Anyway, the relief was felt when management at the Elephant Hills Hotel told the planners they didn’t have enough refrigeration space for all that elephant and other game meat, so the party had to put up with plain old Zimbabwean beef instead, served with “sadza,” a traditional cornmeal porridge.
Apparently, it was raining during the celebrations, but everyone had fun, including the hotel. Every single room in the 1,060-room hotel was booked for the party, meaning the hotel had some pretty good business out of it. Reportedly, a couple hundred more rooms were booked at other establishments in the area to hold the rest of the party.
According to Trything Mutyandasvika, chairman of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe, with this being low season, they have fewer tourists, so the lavish party was welcome indeed.
The whole shebang started with a dinner on the hotel’s golf course for 100 Zimbabwean children who share a birthday with Robert Mugabe. It then moved indoors for the main “do,” a lavish banquet for 500 of Mugabe’s nearest and dearest.
Apparently, the state media asked Mugabe if he was thinking of ever retiring from his job. Rumors have been spreading that Mugabe’s wife, 49-year-old Grace Mugabe, might take over the position. However, Mugabe said he was in power in Zimbabwe, not Grace, and that even though she is in politics, she is not the power behind his throne.
“She has come into politics in her own right.”
Speaking of the $1.3 million cost for the birthday bash, this was apparently mainly funded from the presidential budget. In a country where many people go hungry, some complain that this is an abomination, and on top of this, a speech Mugabe gave turned out to be rather ironic.
The Daily Mail reports that Robert Mugabe gave a televised speech prior to the celebrations, in which he threatened to seize animal sanctuaries and farming land still owned by white people in Zimbabwe.
— Legatum Institute (@LegatumInst) February 28, 2015
Mugabe claimed that whites still own vast tracts of Zimbabwe’s land, and he vowed to “invade” the remaining farms and safari businesses owned by whites in the country.
“Zimbabwe has lots of safaris but very few are African. Most are white-owned. In our region, we have the most safaris and animals. Our people cannot keep suffering.”
Under the former name Rhodesia, Zimbabwe was once considered to be the “bread basket” of Africa due to the successful farming methods in the country. At the time the country gained independence in 1980 and changed its name to Zimbabwe, white farmers owned approximately 70 percent of the best farming land in the country.
In April 2000, Robert Mugabe and his political party pushed through a controversial land reform, allowing the government to confiscate land from white farmers and hand it over to black farmers without compensation. Due to these measures, many Zimbabweans lacked food and lost employment, and much of the taken land stood uncultivated from then onwards. Since then, only approximately 300 out of the previous 4,500 white farmers still own land in the country.
In the meantime, 91-year-old Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe intends to continue as the head of the country and denies media reports doing the rounds that he is suffering from prostate cancer.
At least no one was forced to delete photos of this event, unlike the incident reported by the Inquisitr of the now well-known fall from grace where Robert Mugabe had a tumble at Harare airport on his return from a trip to Addis Ababa.
While Mugabe tried to hide his fall, it seems some even remembered the incident in recent tweets about the birthday party.
Nice to see Robert Mugabe busting some moves and throwing some shapes at his 91st birthday party. pic.twitter.com/edndHaRAc0
— Marcus Payne (@nowtro) February 22, 2015
[Photo by Pool /Getty Images]