By Sij Ncube
Masvingo, February 27, 2016 – PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and his followers this Saturday descend on drought ravaged Masvingo for nothing less than a lavish birthday bash costing $800 000.
Guests, including foreign diplomats, are expected to sample the choicest meats, quaff expensive imported whiskies and gulp beers on top of the festivities.
This is in complete defiance of calls by his opponents and civic groups to show compassion and do a “John Magufuli” through donating the money towards the sourcing of food relief for his starving people.
Magufuli is the new Tanzanian President who has won the hearts of ordinary citizens through introducing a raft of austerity measures mostly targeting high spending government officials.
Mugabe turned 92 years last Sunday and a lavish party is on outside the Great Zimbabwe Ruins grounds with businesses, civil servants and ordinary citizens allegedly having been forced by his overzealous followers to donate.
Masvingo’s virtually dead economic life suddenly finds itself resurrected by the multitudes expected to go up to 10 000.
The Great Zimbabwe bash, open to the riffraff, follows an elite one held in Harare Monday.
Despite calls to do a Magufuli, Mugabe and hangers-on make the beeline to Masvingo.
This has elicited wide condemnation from his opponents and critics who feel the veteran leader was selfish and only worried about himself and his family.
Maxwell Saungweme, a development and political analyst, says proceeding with the bash also confirms Mugabe’s regime is out of touch with reality on the ground.
“They are far removed from the people. They don’t appreciate the socio-economic problems facing the poor on a daily basis,” he said.
“They know nothing beyond their noses or their comfort zones. It’s highly insensitive to hold such an extravagant feast while literally standing on the tops of skinny and drought ravaged poor people of Masvingo.”
He suggested that citizens should resist by protesting against “this seeming madness”.
However, attempts by MDC-T youths to demonstrate against Mugabe’s birthday party during the week were thwarted by the heavy presence of state security agents and police.
Saungweme says at 92, Mugabe should be resting and sharing ngano/inganu (tales) with his grand and great grand-children.
“It is unfair to humanity for him to be saddled with the responsibility to deal with national problems at that advanced age. No wonder why the hawks around him are manipulating him for their own ends. I feel sorry for him.”
But Zanu PF apologists are adamant the nonagenarian was still well in control of both the country and mental faculties.
In fact, they still want him as party candidate for the 2018 national elections.
Jacob Mafume, PDP spokesperson says it was puzzling how Mugabe continued to reward himself with never ending birthday parties inside a month.
“Our suffering is directly proportional to his decadence and debauchery,” he says.
“His wife and friend seem to be making ever bigger cakes yet the suffering of the people in Masvingo has been growing. But the fellow seems to be oblivious of the fact that a birthday is an all too common occurrence to all human beings that have been born.”
Mafume said “the loud and prolonged” celebrations almost border on “collective and communal insanity”.
Maureen Gombakomba, another political analyst, said there was nothing to celebrate.
“I shudder at the idea that over $800 000 can be blown up at a 92nd birthday bash.
“This is insensitive of Mr President when the majority of Zimbabweans are barely managing to get one meal per day.
“The plight of our country is deep and the suffering of Zimbabwean populace is just too heavy to afford such luxuries,” she said.
But the Zanu PF Youth League has defended the hosting of the bash, saying celebrating Mugabe’s birthday was similar to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Critics, however, are agreed the event provides sycophants a chance to display their respective individual skills in bootlicking Mugabe and the First Family.