Tendai Mugabe & Hugh Gombakomba Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe celebrated his 92th birthday in style after staff in his office threw him a surprise party at State House yesterday. Cde Mugabe turned 92 on Sunday. Although the main festivities, which coincide with the 21st February Movement celebrations are slated for Masvingo this Saturday, staff in the Office of the President and Cabinet held a small function for the President.
After he was presented with the birthday cake, President Mugabe left everyone in stitches when he said the party was no longer a surprise as it happened every year.
“The Chief Secretary (Misheck Sibanda) said they did this as a surprise event. But I’m no longer surprised because every year, I now know that once I strike another birthday, this event is bound to follow,” he said.
In his speech to mark his 92th birthday celebrations, Cde Mugabe thanked staff in his office and Zimbabweans at large for the overwhelming support he received during his tenure both as Sadc and African Union chairman.
“But we’re not only celebrating that we’ve managed to get to this year 2016 where we’re celebrating the 92th birthday of the President. We’ve also raised our status, our independence became a tool and the means with which we’ve interacted with others,” said President Mugabe.
“And through you and your support, I’ve managed to lead not just Sadc but the whole of Africa and I did it not as an individual but knew that it was Zimbabwe that was behind me. I think with that support, I got the groundwork having been done in Sadc, left a good name, a good name at all costs bequeathed to them.
“Some of our socio-economic principles, how in Sadc we could develop through interaction, through trade, through industrialisation, through free movement of our affairs, of our people, of our industry and in Africa the same.”
At the recent African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he handed over the continental body’s chairmanship to Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno, Cde Mugabe reminded world leaders that Africa might one day decide to pull out of the United Nations if they continued to treat Africans as underdogs.
He said people of colour should be treated the same as their white counterparts. President Mugabe said he had a harmonious working relationship with staff in his office.
“Chief Secretary (Misheck Sibanda) takes orders that go afar, reaching the various departments and the orders being reciprocated with action. Then, you know we’re together. Yes, of course, we’re together,” he said.
“We’re together because we’ve performed together.
“I’ve only been a leader but those who’ve taken the orders, who’ve carried out the orders are yourselves and those who aren’t here, the very many others.”
President Mugabe took time to explain how the colonial settlers dispossessed Zimbabwe’s founding fathers of their land and natural resources. He said he also grew up under colonial rule until such a time that he, together with other freedom fighters, took up arms against the oppressors.
“Well, 92 years is a long time on this world. You know, you’ve seen many things happening, domestically and experience of the vicissitudes of the international world,” said President Mugabe.
“But I must say that in regards to ourselves, taking the context in which we were and the turmoil of that context when our elders suffered so much, they had to bear their own struggle, Chimurenga chavo, and they were defeated.
“They lost their land, their natural resources; they lost their manhood, womanhood, hunhu hwavo and they were subjects — subjects of a foreign element that had colonised them. And the vision of tomorrow was blocked.
“We grew in it. We became also elders and felt the torment in that environment and that’s why we decided that enough was enough. Our fathers suffered so much torment, so much suffering, so much subjugation — we must get out of it. Yes, we could say let’s pray or seek ancestral intervention but we realised we had to take action.
“So even if to Him whom we pray, He were to answer back. Save us oh, Lord! I’m sure he would say fools, you humans. Haven’t I given you the weapons with which to save yourself? Haven’t you got a head? Haven’t you got wisdom? Are you not enlightened? Don’t you know what to do? Your hands are not just hands, are not just to feed you. Get them to work.
“Mbuya (Nehanda) when she said her bones shall rise up she meant we’ve to fight for it. She would resurrect meaning you who is asleep wake up, vuka! Then we woke up and said we’re also born of man and woman like everyone else. (I) am sure we fought and sure we won. So there we’re celebrating.”
The birthday party celebration was attended by Ministers Kembo Mohadi (State Security), Simon Khaya Moyo (Policy Co-ordination), Josiah Hungwe (Psychomotor), Miriam Chikukwa (Minister of State Harare province), service chiefs and several senior government officials.
The Office of the President and Cabinet presented mealie-meal, sugar and cooking oil for the President to donate to a charity organisation of his choice.