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No lavish birthday celebration as Zimbabwe’s Mugabe turns 94

Former Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for decades, turned 94 on Wednesday, with no lavish celebrations like previous years.

Reports say this will his first birthday since being ousted in a military coup in 2017.

Feb. 21 is still a holiday in the southern African nation, but, unlike in previous years, huge amounts of money have not been spent on extravagant celebrations or outlandish birthday cakes.

Zimbabweans marked Robert Mugabe’s 94th birthday on Wednesday with an official day off, but without the extravagant cakes and fawning tributes that defined 21 February for much of his 37-year rule.

As president, Mugabe typically celebrated with a rambling speech, delivered while wearing a suit bearing images of his own face at a party that included a lavish feast.

But following his ousting in November after a brief military takeover, this year’s festivities were restrained.

Other than a solitary editorial proclaiming the former head of state’s big day in the government-run Herald newspaper, there was little in the way of official fanfare.

None of the ministries and agencies that previously clamoured to mark the day even acknowledged it this year, and the flurry of tributes that filled newspaper pull-outs each year was also absent.

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While government offices and schools were closed for the first annual “Robert Mugabe National Youth Day” – declared a week after his forced resignation on 21 November 21 – much civilian life continued as normal.

Mugabe ally and former government minister, Jonathan Moyo, who fled the country after November’s coup, posted a picture to Facebook that he said showed Mugabe and his wife marking the occasion at their Harare home.

Mugabe, known for his penchant for Savile Row suits, was immaculately dressed, but sat slumped in his chair, while his wife, often derided for her expense tastes as “Gucci Grace,” was dressed in bright pink.

The much-loathed former first lady gave a slight smile, in contrast to a picture of her released earlier this week with her husband and the chief of the African Union in which she appeared decidedly unhappy.

The Mugabes were allowed to stay in Zimbabwe after the coup that brought current leader Emmerson Mnangagwa to power.

The former liberation hero was also reportedly given a generous retirement package.

In 2017, Mugabe, for his 93rd birthday, had a cake weighing 93 kgs, a symbol many found distasteful in a country mired in economic crisis. 2018.

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Written by PH

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