Zimbabwe’s Mugabe declares disaster in drought-stricken areas as he prepares for his $800,000 birthday celebration

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HARARE  – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has declared a state of disaster in most rural parts of the country severely hit by a drought, with 26 percent of the population said to be in need of food aid, the government said in a statement late Thursday.

Declaring a state of disaster allows international donors to raise money quickly to provide food aid to Zimbabwe, which has said it will step up imports of the staple maize by buying up to 700,000 tonnes this year to avert hunger.

Meanwhile ,ZANU-PF, which has been the ruling party since 1980, is expected to spent up to US$800,000 (£559,600) on the celebration of Mugabe’s 92nd birthday – to the huge financial cost of Zimbabweans. Part of the festivities will be held in the drought- stricken Masvingo province and will also include a musical gala and a football tournament