Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has turned 93 couple of weeks ago – making him the oldest head of state on the planet.
Mugabe is clearly touchy about his age – press photographers recently reported being forced to delete images of him falling over at an official engagement.
Is Mugabe kept alive by strange blood transfusions? Is he, in fact dead?
These are both reported as fact… but are they true?
HERE ARE 19 ROBERT MUGABE FACTS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW
1) At 93, he is the oldest head of state on Earth, head of Tunisia’s president Beji Caid Essebsi, who is 88. He has been in power for 35 years.
2) He enjoys being compared to Hitler. When someone made the comparison, due to his alleged racist attitudes towards white people, Mugabe responded, ‘I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold.’
3) Despite his age, the President shows no intention of stepping down – he reaffirmed his intention to lead Zimbabwe on 20th December last year, saying that he would stand again in 2018.
4) His birthday party sometime cost £750,000 or more – a display Human Rights Watch has branded ‘obscene’ in a country where one in three children is stunted due to hunger, according to the UN.
5) His successor might be his secretary. Arguments over who will succeed Mugabe have raged for years – but some suggest his wife Grace will assume leadership. She used to be his secretary.
6) Mugabe was actually knighted, but his knighthood was withdrawn in 2008 after 14 years.
7) When Gordon Brown attempted to step in over Mugabe’s refusal to release election results (he lost, but remains in power through a new sharing arrangement) in 2008, Mugabe described him as a, ‘a little tiny dot on this planet’.
8) Mugabe was raised in a Jesuit school, and is a devoted Catholic, attending the funeral of the last Pope despite a ‘no fly’ rule barring him from most of the planet.
9) Mugabe was actually nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize when he took power in 1981, but a series of massacres which left thousands dead turned global opinion against him.
10) Mugabe has (allegedly) fiddled elections using intimidation and other tactics – and also won the lottery in Zimbabwe in 2000, winning 100,000 Zimbabwean dollars.
11) Mugabe was originally a teacher, and while his regime has become notorious for violence, Zimbabwe has a literacy level of above 90%.
12) A popular conspiracy theory suggests that Mugabe died long ago and has been replaced by his own body double. Photos suggest otherwise.
13) Mugabe claims that age has not diminished his strength – suggesting, ‘I feel as energetic as a nine year old boy.’
14) Mugabe often drops provocative quotes about how much he hates white people, such as, ‘The white man is here as a second citizen. The only man you can trust is a dead white man.’
15) For years, Mugabe has travelled to East Asia for medical treatment – reputed to involve transfusions – which has left him, he claims, ‘Fitter than two fiddles’.
16) Mugabe’s guests will enjoy two elephants at the birthday ‘do’ – provided by a local farmer, much to the horror of conservationists.
17) Guests at his birthday will receive T-shirts commemorating events in Mugabe’s life.
18) Mugabe led his country’s revolution against a colonial regime backed by Britain in 1980, and he still has support among some Africans. Mugabe was elected chairman of the 54-nation African Union at a summit of African leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
19) He spent ten years in prison before assuming the leadership of Zimbabwe.