25 February 2007
Mugabe feasts, Zimbabwe starves
Robert Mugabe celebrated his 83rd birthday yesterday with a lavish feast in a football stadium in the town of Gweru. Attended ministers, diplomats and ruling party officials the feast is believed to have cost over $1m. Inside the stadium, Mugabe received gifts, including a luxury coach from Zimbabwe’s “all weather” friend China and a stuffed crocodile from cabinet ministers who said it represented the President's 'maturity and wisdom'. Critics quipped that it more aptly sums up Mugabe's cold-blooded, voracious nature.
In a speech broadcast live on radio Mugabe accused the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change of being a front for Britain (the former colonial power). He also laid the blame for Zimbabwe’s current situation on sanctions imposed by the EU. "Our nation faces continued socio-economic challenges from the illegal sanctions (imposed) on us by our detractors as punishment for repossessing our land," His programme of white land seizures has caused agricultural production to plummet by at least 40 percent in the last six years.
Zimbabwe is in economic meltdown: Inflation has hit 1,600 per cent and is predicted to rise to 4,000 per cent later this year. Unemployment is at 80 per cent and severe shortages of fuel, staple foods and medicines have caused thousands of deaths.
Marie Antoinette was alleged to have said “Let them eat cake” when told that the poor did not have enough bread to eat (she didn’t say that at all The phrase comes from Rousseau’s confessions and possible refers to the wife of Louis XIV) Mugabe is not telling his people to eat cake – by having this banquet he appears to be telling them to eat shit. His departure cannot come too soon for the people of Zimbabwe.