By Robert Stitt
According to the Daily Mail, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s 92nd-birthday cake weighed-in at the weight of a prize fighter – a full 92 kilograms (just under 203 U.S. pounds). The overall party cost upwards of a million dollars.
As the world’s oldest living leader, you might think Mugabe has earned a nice party, but his country is in financial ruin. Drought has brought vast food shortages, and political turmoil continues to fuel fighting throughout the African nation. The lavish party was viewed as a slap in the face of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Not everybody complained. Thousands dressed in the country’s colors: red, black, green, and yellow. While most of them were not allowed inside to feast on beef and game meat with the president, they still cheered him on. While they did not taste any of his cake, they wore shirts with his face and the slogan “I Love Bob”.
Some might ask how is this any different than being shunned from a white house formal at $50,000 a plate? Most Americans don’t live in a world where “vote-rigging, mass emigration, accusations of human rights abuses and economic decline” have been the standard for the last 36 years, and this year 75 percent of their maize crop was destroyed by drought. Maize is the staple food crop for the country.
Mugabe said that he has applied for aid and that no-one would starve, but then he added that he would not accept the aid if the country had to accept gay rights to get it. “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.”
In addition to the drought, Zimbabwe suffers from hyper-inflation as a result of Mugabe’s “reforms”. He seized all of the farms from white farmers and redistributed them to his supporters soon after he took office. When Mugabe took power in 1980 after the British ceded control of the country, Zimbabwe was poised to be one of the world’s most promising economies. Mugabe’s policies have thrown the country into economic chaos, however, and its output is now less than half of what is was nearly 40 years ago.
Mugabe has not named a successor if he dies, but his wife has made it plain that she wants the presidency next.