Few reasons to party as… Mugabe turns 87

soldiers2HARARE - President Robert Mugabe turns 87 tomorrow amid expected pomp and fanfare but Zimbabweans do not have much to show for the 30-odd years of bondage to the former liberation hero now a tyrant. (Pictured: The army has played a key role in keeping Mugabe who turns 87 tomorrow - in po

The old man, as he is affectionately known by his legion of smitten Zanu (PF) followers and lap-dog journalists in the state media, will turn 87 on February 21 and is expected to celebrate his birthday with the usually pomp. The official party, organised by the cult-like 21st February Movement, is scheduled for February 26 in Harare. As in previous years, the Zanu (PF) zealots will throw the mother of all parties for the Zimbabwean strongman.

However, there are few reasons for partying in Zimbabwe, where the majority suffer food shortages, unprecedented unemployment, a devastating AIDS epidemic and gross human rights abuses – marked by attacks on the media, state-sponsored violence against Zanu (PF) opponents and violations of rights to freedom of expression and association.

The time when Zimbabwe was southern Africas breadbasket is long gone. No matter. Monday is his birthday. Like a boy, thats all he can think about right now, said press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

Repressive legislation, state control of public media, harassment of the privately-owned press, physical attacks on freelance photographers, arbitrary arrests, illegal detention, systematic persecution of human rights activists and heavy-handed interrogation by the Central Intelligence Organization these are the ingredients of censorship and suppression of free speech in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe is one of the worlds oldest heads of state, on a par with Saudi Arabias King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz Al Saud and Singaporean President Sellapan Ramanathan.

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