On Friday had a cheerful message of greetings to Robert Mugabe wishing him well on his birthday:
“Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, on Feb. 18 sent a message of greetings to Robert G. Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, on the occasion of his 85th birthday.
Kim in the message wished the president good health and success in his work for the stability of Zimbabwe and its people's well-being.”
Today’s Observer reports, unsurprisingly, that Robert Mugabe marked his 85th birthday yesterday with a sumptuous banquet in Harare at the start of a week of parties – at a time when prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai said "maybe US$5bn (£ 3.5bn)" would be needed to rehabilitate the collapsed health, social and education systems.
Celebrations got under way on Friday as schoolboy pipers, accompanied by drum majorettes, marched through the decrepit capital and members of a ruling party youth organisation sold $10 raffle tickets.
A $100-a-ticket gala dinner at Harare's Rainbow Towers Hotel on Wednesday is advertised as a musical extravaganza. The parties will culminate on Saturday with a public feast and concert at Chinhoyi, about 50 miles west of Harare, which is to be televised. Dozens of animals will be slaughtered for the event and guests include hundreds of children also born on 21 February.
Political science professor John Makumbe said the birthday display was the latest of many signals that the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) does not intend to respect the power-sharing agreement that saw Tsvangirai sworn in on 11 February. "The money for the parties and the cattle and chickens donated are extracted from people virtually against their will," he said. "Thousands have died from cholera and many students are not attending school or university because teachers are not paid. It's unbelievable that he can blow quadrillions of Zimbabwe dollars on parties."
Zanu-PF youth leader Absolom Sikhosana defended the Chinhoyi event: "It is not a feast per se, but an event where youths have a chance to meet their hero. This inspires them to emulate his exemplary qualities of nation-building, patriotism and principled leadership."
In a sign of the times, the 21 February Movement set out to raise only $500,000 (£350,000) for Mugabe's birthday week against a reported $1.2m last year. Last week Sikhosana made a heartfelt plea on national radio for benefactors to make good on their promises: "We know things are tough, but it would be nice to honour the pledges you made." According to some reports, pledges for only £70,000 have come in, much in the form of food donations.
I suppose this goes to show that a leopard never changes its shorts..... At least it's good to see that the KCNA is as full of crap as it ever is!