It seems that Robert Mugabe may not be getting everything he wants for his birthday this year. A week after I mentioned that Mugabe was set to celebrate his 85th with thousands of pounds of ducks and lobsters, buckets of caviar, and more than 10,000 bottles of champagne, it seems that his fundraising committee is having difficulty raising the cash to bankroll the proposed ridiculousness.
Although the extravaganza is just days away, officials are still racing around Zimbabwe trying to find donors willing to foot the bill. Sources note that increased MDC authority in regions formally controlled by Mugabe’s party, the ZANU-PF, has made many less willing to donate. Spokesmen emphasize, however, that all celebrations will move forward as planned.
It seems highly unlikely that “Uncle Bob” will pay as much attention to bankrolling critical economic and public health programs in his country as he did to finding the funds for his fete. Observers note that revelers arriving at Harare’s Rainbow Towers Hotel Wednesday night will make yet another mockery of the already frail unity government at the same time as Morgan Tsvangirai and South African President Kgalema Motlanthe are trying their best to paint a picture of slow and steady progress in the country.
Mugabe’s lavish birthday spending seems to only be the tip of the iceberg. Last week’s Sunday Times’ offered a chilling expose on the behavior of the octogenarian dictator and his forty-something wife, Grace. The paper notes:
According to sources in Zimbabwe and Asia, Grace Mugabe has splashed out £55,500 on marble statues in Vietnam and £8,700 on a handbag in Singapore. She and her husband have enjoyed some of the region’s finest hotels. In Hong Kong, where she has discussed a venture to have Zimbabwean diamonds cut and polished in China, her aides paid one hotel bill with a bag of cash containing £10,500.
Time Magazine can’t help but note the probability that Grace’s cash has been, “siphoned from Zimbabwe’s government coffers,” and I, for one, can’t help but agree.