Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday subbed president Mugabe’s lavish birthday bash, describing it as a Zanu PF and not national event.
Against the backdrop of a collapsed economy, food shortages and cholera epidemic, Mugabe blew a whooping US$250 000 on his 85th birthday that included an 85kg cake and 100 beasts.
The party was held in Chinhoyi about 120 kilometers outside of the capital, Harare. Shoolchildren were carrying banners reading “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number”.
Tsvangirai, who was invited, opted instead to visit an intensive care clinic attending to cholera victims that needs US$30 000 to continue operarting. Tsvangirai has appealed to the international community for US$5 billion to stabalize the Zimbabwean economy.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, James Maridadi was on Saturday quoted as saying Tsvangirai acknowledged receipt of the invitation and he congratulated “His Excellency” and his office.
“An invite was received on Friday afternoon and in response to the invite he basically sent his congratulations to His Excellency and his office. But as he looked at programme he realised the birthday bash was a Zanu-PF party affair so he felt he (Tsvangirai) should allow Zanu-PF to do it without interference from people who are not Zanu-PF members.
“As you are aware there is a difference between party and government function and if it’s a party function he may choose not to attend and in this case he chose not since he leads a political party,” Maridadi said in a telephone interview.
He said Tsvangirai decided not to attend since it was a “Zanu-PF event” and that it would be best for the party to celebrate “without interference.”
Observers say the snub was expected considering the tension between Tsvangirai’s office and that of President Mugabe over the outstanding issues including the arrests of MDC’s Treasurer Roy Bennet as well as other activists, the unilateral appointment of permanent secretaries and fresh farm invasions.
Mugabe’s invitation is believed to have angered many within MDC.
Contacted for comment by local Press on whether he was attending, the Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said ‘Not At All”.