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Robert Mugabe turns 91 with million dollar birthday bash

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is the world's oldest leader.

Robert Mugabe, Zimbawe President Birthday A man reads the state owned newspaper, The Herald, in Harare, Saturday, Feb, 21, 2015. Mugabe marks his 91st birthday Saturday with his supporters saying they will back him to run his full term until 2018 and beyond despite nagging questions about his health and an economy that is crumbling under his watch. (Source: AP Photo)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Saturday will celebrate his 91st birthday with a million dollar bash attended by thousands of faithful party supporters.

As elephants are slaughtered for the feast at a luxury hotel in Zimbabwe’s famed Victoria Falls, critics are questioning the scale of the festivities, calling them “obscene” in a country where millions live in poverty.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is the world’s oldest leader.

While he is hailed by many of his African peers as a liberation hero, critics say that over the following decades he turned the “breadbasket of southern Africa” into a basket case, trampling human rights, justice and democracy.

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Mugabe’s violent seizure of white-owned farms triggered food shortages and hyper-inflation, while Europe and the United States imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe over elections seen as rigged.

In an interview marking his birthday, Mugabe admitted he blundered by giving ill-equipped black farmers vast tracts of farmland under his controversial land reforms.

“I think the farms we gave to people are too large. They can’t manage them,” Mugabe said.

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He also shrugged off questions over an incident earlier in February in which he missed a step and stumbled from a podium.

“I have yet to come across to a person who has not fallen. It was a slight fall, missing a step,” Mugabe told state-controlled television.

First published on: 28-02-2015 at 17:04 IST
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