As the severe drought in Zimbabwe leads to its people having nothing to eat, President Robert Mugabe blew a huge $800,000 on his recent 92nd birthday celebration.
Marie-Antoinette, the Queen consort of Louis XVI, is famous for a statement she made when the French had no bread to eat. She said, “Let them eat cake.”
In the current news, it is Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace that were eating an outrageously huge birthday cake, while their countrymen are starving, after 75 percent of Zimbabwe’s staple maize crop has failed due to the severe drought in the country.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 28, 2016
The lavish birthday party for Robert Mugabe has drawn criticism, especially from the opposition, who call the celebrations “obscene.” What makes it even worse is that the birthday party was held in the Masvingo province, the hardest hit area during the current drought with three million people going hungry.
Obert Gutu, spokesman for the main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said of the party, “The money that is being budgeted for this ill-conceived birthday bash should actually be used to import maize to avert the impending starvation in Masvingo province and other parts of the country.”
As the drought continues, many critics blame Robert Mugabe himself for many of the problems facing Zimbabwe. Critics say his policies, which included the seizure and redistribution of the previously successful, white-owned commercial farms, has driven Zimbabwe into nearly a decade of deep recession.
Mugabe has been President of Zimbabwe since 1987 and has recently claimed no one would starve in his country as a result of the recent drought, which has left three million people desperately hungry and in need, and has prompted the declaration of a state of disaster in many rural areas of the country.
According to the Guardian, while the country has appealed for $1.6 billion in aid to help its people, Mugabe said during an hour-long speech that Zimbabwe would not accept aid from western countries if it came with conditions that the country should accept gay rights.
“If aid, as I understand, is to be given on the basis that we accept the principle of gay marriages, then let that aid stay where it is.”
“We don’t want it. It is rotten aid, filthy aid and we won’t have anything to do with it.”
The country is appealing for the aid to help pay for imported grain and other food for Zimbabwean citizens, but reportedly no aid organization has actually attached such a condition to the assistance they offer.
Despite the fact that Mugabe turned 92 years of age on February 21, he has no intention of stepping down, which has reportedly led to much frustration among members of his own ruling Zanu-PF party, who have long been trying to get into line as his successor.
As to the outrageous birthday party itself, during the $800,000 celebration 92 balloons were released in Robert Mugabe’s honor while he listened to poetry readings, chants and songs hailing him as a visionary and an African icon.
— The Guardian (@guardian) February 28, 2016
The giant birthday cake (pictured top of article) was made in the shape of the ancient Zimbabwe ruins for which the country is named. There were also other lavish cakes on offer, some of them multi-tiered.
Meanwhile foreign diplomats, government ministers, security chiefs, school children and anyone wanting to get into Mugabe’s favor got to enjoy the lavish spoils on offer at the celebration.
Robert Mugabe’s lavish birthday parties have become international news on an annual basis, but this year’s $800,000 bash – celebrated while so many of his people are starving – is probably the most controversial, especially due to the fact that 75 percent of the staple maize crop in Masvingo has failed. This has led to the worst drought since the early 1990s in what is the hardest-hit area of Zimbabwe.
According to a report by Fox News, Mugabe has also stated he wants his birthday, which has been dubbed the “21st February Movement,” declared a national holiday in Zimbabwe.
[AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi]