By Ndumiso Mlilo.

JOHANNESBURG. (News Of The South) – opposition political parties and civil society based in South Africa registered their displeasure with the embassy officials in Pretoria about President Robert Mugabe’s lavish birthday celebrations.

President Mugabe who turns 92, is scheduled to hold a bash in Masvingo on Sunday February 21, 2016 where over $800 000 would be spent. The parties handed over the petition with their complaints to an unidentified Zimbabwean embassy official in Pretoria. The leader of Liberal Democrats Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda read the petition which said, “Mr Mugabe’s birthday is indeed a milestone and celebrate with him that he has grown to a good old age but surely the celebration is mala fide to the ordinary Zimbabwean, it is ill-timed and an act of disregard to the plight of a starving Zimbabwean to feed even that person on cakes and soft drinks and sweets while tomorrow that person will not afford a meal.”

The parties lashed out at the President for the celebrations when many people people in the country face starvation due to El Nino drought. During the week, UNICEF said over 2,8 million Zimbabweans face starvation. Dr Sibanda added that they, “request that the greatly respected President takes regard of the plight of the Zimbabweans or his people as he normal refers to us. The Zimbabwean government has shown total disregard for the for the basic needs of the people by going on to prepare to spend so much on his birthday on the backdrop of El Nino and many starving Zimbabweans.”

They stated that they are not against the birthday but the lavish spending in the sea of poverty. Sibanda said the irony of the bash is that it comes after the President declared the State of disaster in the country on February 5, 2016. Sibanda added, “while on the other hand the government is appealing to local business and international donors to assist with drought relief money, on the other hand Mr Mugabe’s Zanu P.F is foraging for US$800 000 to bankroll his birthday bash….t is reckless, callous, insensitive colossal sign of bad governance, abuse of power and resources.”

The Communist Group general secretary Ngqabutho Mabhena also concurred with Dr Sibanda saying the government is insensitive to the suffering masses. Mabhena also expressed displeasure at the infighting in Zanu PF saying that would affect the general Zimbabweans who are already suffering. He said, “the opposition parties have been reduced to onlookers and commentators who comment on what is happening in Zanu PF. I am worried about what that would lead to, but not that I support the party. That could even lead to warlords or even the scrapping of the 2018 elections.”

The Zapu NEC member Future Msebele also criticised President Mugabe for forcing the national to celebrate with him.Msebele said, “He s forcing the national to celebrate with him? Why not celebrate with his family only?How many Presidents force people to celebrate their birthdays and forget about the needs of the nation? They will come back an say it was another moment of madness.”

Mugabe had said the Gukurahundi killings of over 20 000 people was a moment of madness. Solomon Chikowero from the Movement for the Democratic Change Veterans Association said it is a mockery to have a lavish celebrations in drought stricken district like Masvingo where some people are starving. He called on the President to convert the $800 000 to food hampers and distribute in the country to the need people.

Mandla Masuku the general secretary of the Migrant Workers Union of South Africa (MIWUSA)also criticised the ‘wasteful’ spending saying, “there is nothing to celebrate for. I am not against his birthday celebration. I do not know if he is using his personal or State money or not. Even if it is his money how can he celebrate when the people are suffering.”

The official who received the petition promised to hand it over to his superiors. Others who were part of those who went to hand over the petition included The Welshman led MDC and the Zimbabwe Communist League.

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