Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mugabe and friends eat cake while nation starves

////Today Mr Mugabe, who has been in power for 26 years, will be the guest of honour in the eastern city of Mutare, where residents have been ordered to spruce up dilapidated buildings to give the best impression during the few hours that he will be in town. Enock Porusingayi, a ruling party youth leader in Mutare, hopes to raise about £550,000 “to mark our President’s birthday with dignity”.

Nobody wants to displease the President amid growing signs of his isolation, and anxiety as Zimbabwe’s crumbling economy takes its toll.

In the exclusive Borrowdale Brook suburb of Harare, construction of Mr Mugabe’s retirement mansion continues. Last month neighbours were told that they would have to sell their houses because the area is “a security zone”. In the meantime, they must brick up their windows that face the mansion.////

In interviews given to mark his birthday, he said: “One cannot ignore the call of the people because the people are the ones who make the final decision.” Yesterday Mr Mugabe remained defiant, criticising African leaders for failing to stand up to the West, and the International Monetary Fund for allowing itself to be bullied by countries such as Britain. “Our erstwhile coloniser still wants to control us by remote control,” he said.

Even some ministers are expressing concern. Last week Kembo Mohadi, the Home Affairs Minister, made the first official admission that the country was seriously short of food. “There is no grain whatsoever. Our people are actually starving,” he said on state radio....

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