ZIMBABWE’s state media on Sunday praised President Robert Mugabe’s “intellectual clarity” and “ideological steadfastness” a day after the long-time leader celebrated his 91st birthday with a huge party and eight cakes.
The state-run Sunday Mail said Mugabe, who has been in power in Zimbabwe for nearly 35 years, was “one of a dying breed of politicians”.
“The thing is, they don’t make them like President Mugabe anymore,” the paper said in its editorial, claiming that Zimbabweans “love their president”.
An estimated 20 000 people attended a huge birthday party in Victoria Falls on Saturday, feasting on elephant and 91 cattle, according to reports.
Dressed in a black suit and red neckerchief, Mugabe let off balloons, spoke for two hours and ate cake.
The event was believed to have cost more than a million US dollars, and sparked some criticism given Zimbabwe’s mounting economic problems.
Around 76% of all Zimbabwean adults live on less than US$200 a month, according to recently-released statistics.
But the Zimbabwean leader’s supporters are in favour of extending the birthday celebrations.
The Sunday Mail reported that “one day [is]not enough” to honour him.
Professor Caiphas Nziramasanga told the paper that studies on Mugabe should be incorporated into the national school syllabus.
“If you look at American studies they… have topics specifically on Abraham Lincoln. When it comes to us, we seem to be afraid of honouring our own people,” Nziramasanga was quoted as saying.
The privately-owned Standard took the opposite view, with columnist Chipo Masara arguing that Mugabe “now lacks the energy to drive this nation forward”.
“As much as there are multitudes of people that literally worship him like some demigod, at 91 Mugabe is now a very old man indeed and cannot be entrusted with leadership of this great nation,” Masara wrote.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change still believes that Mugabe cheated his way to victory in polls in 2013 that brought to an end a four-year coalition.SAPA