Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Big bash for Mugabe's 92nd birthday

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, left, watches as his wife Grace cut one of his birthday cakes, during celebrations for his 92nd birthday, yesterday.

MASVINGO (AP):

Calling Robert Mugabe "Dear Father," "His Royal Highness," and "the Moses of Africa", members of Zimbabwe's ruling party reasserted their loyalty to the long-time leader at the

celebration of his recent 92nd birthday.

By bus, truck and on foot, thousands of Zimbabweans wearing the colours of the ruling ZANU-PF party made their way to the normally sleepy south eastern city of Masvingo to mark Mugabe's birthday.

Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980, let 92 balloons into the air to start the festivities held at the historical Great Zimbabwe monument, about 25 kilometres (15 miles) from downtown Masvingo.

School children perform

During the televised event, school children performed military drills and recited poetry praising Mugabe and criticising western nations.

Speaking for more than an hour, Mugabe criticised the political jockeying in his party, saying younger members who have spoken out against his wife's growing power must be disciplined.

"It is shameful the way Mrs. Mugabe is being criticised," he said, accusing them of leaking scandals to the press. "Who may be the enemy among us?"

Mugabe also wants his birthday declared a national holiday.

Many supporters wore outfits emblazoned with Mugabe's portrait and feasted on beef and game meat. Political allies from the ruling parties of neighbouring countries took turns to congratulate Mugabe, who led the guerrilla war in the 1970s when the country was white-minority-ruled Rhodesia.

The event, dubbed the 21st February Movement after Mugabe's actual birthday, has been held since 1986.