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Let them eat cake in Zimbabwe?

By Matthew ClarkAfrica editor / March 1, 2009



British tabloids have taken to calling him ‘Mad Bob.’

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On Saturday, Zimbabwe’s president seemed to be living up to the moniker.

Robert Mugabe threw himself a A $250,000 party with 3,000 spectators celebrating his 85th year on this planet.

And, really, what’s a party without a 187-pound cake?

Nevermind that more than half the population is on emergency food aid, that inflation (by far the world’s highest) floats somewhere well above 200 million percent, or that his own government just days ago asked its cash-strapped neighbors for $2 million more in aid.

Oh yeah, and then there’s that cholera epidemic that’s blamed for claiming nearly 4,000 lives in recent months: a tragedy, that stems from government failure at the most basic levels. As the Monitor wrote in a December story, the outbreak even threatens regional stability.

But none of that stopped Mr. Mugabe from throwing such a lavish birthday bash.

This is Mugabe holding back

To be sure, he’s been more extravagent, as The New York Times point out. “But perhaps hard times call for restraint,” quips the paper.

What Mugabe party would be complete, though, without a renewed promise to seize Zimbabwe’s last few hundred white-owned farms. Yep, Bob was “playing the hits.”

Opposition leader skips the bash

Top opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai - now the country’s prime minister in a fragile new coalition government – skipped the party.

The first few weeks of the new government have not gone well, reported the Monitor’s Africa Bureau Chief, Scott Baldauf, in a story last week.

Mugabe’s birthday bash casts a “let them eat cake” aura about his leadership. At least, that’s how it looks from the outside.

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