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Robert Mugabe: Ousted Dictator Turns 95 in Solitude

Harare – Ralph Burgess Tarrant, who lived until 110 years said the secret to long life was, “enjoying vices as well as much as virtues,” an...

Harare – Ralph Burgess Tarrant, who lived until 110 years said the secret to long life was, “enjoying vices as well as much as virtues,” and to “stay active and stay interested.”

Africa’s former senior statesman, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who will attain 95 years on 21 February, could have been at the helm of the nation up until his death, if it was not for his trusted cadres who cut short his reign in November 2017.

Once embedded among the continent’s longest-serving leaders, he had confirmed his presidential candidacy for the 2018 plebiscite when he turned 94 – but his own confidante – Emmerson Mnangagwa connived with other military personal to outwit the old, cunning fox.

“They want me to stand for elections, they want me to stand for elections everywhere in the party. And it’s their voice I heed and the voice of no one else.

“Of course, if I feel like I can’t do it anymore, I will say so to my party so that they relieve me,” revealed Mugabe in an interview marking his birthday.

Confirming his influence, Mugabe became the African Union chair in 2015, aged 90, setting a record for the continental gathering.

Long life
The Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences revealed that “people who attended religious services were 46 percent less likely to die during the six-year study. Believing in God, regardless of which faith you are – boots your lifespan.”

Mugabe is a sworn Catholic. On his birthday, a priest paid him a visit for prayer.
Former President Robert Mugabe Turns 95 on 21 February 

With a life expectancy of 34 – Harare is not Okinawa, the remote Japanese islands celebrated for the world’s highest proportion of centenarians, but having a man beyond 90 years remains a national pride.

Former Zanu-PF national youth leader, Kudzai Chipanga, elected to equate Mugabe’s anniversary to ‘Christmas’.

“To us, February 21 is not just a day. To us, it is a special day, in the same manner, Christians treat December 25, the birthday of Jesus Christ.

“I don’t want to be blasphemous, but in my humble view, President Mugabe is second to Jesus Christ. He is our saviour, so his birthday means a lot for us the youths of Zimbabwe,” Chipanga was quoted saying.

In Chipanga’s conviction, Mugabe’s cardinal sin remains the land issue, for which he was ‘crucified’. The youth leader was wiped from public appearance after the November coup, deeming him excess baggage in the ruling party political succession matrix.

To cement the agrarian ‘salvation’, farmers are encouraged to donate 150 beasts of cattle to feed 100 000 invited guests. At night, fans will be treated to a musical gala, graced by various artists with penned tributes for their leader.

Forgoing their financial status, individuals and government departments flooded the national broadcaster – Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC) with advertorials on Mugabe’s birthday.

Opposition attacks
Opposition politicians have suggested that the celebrations be shelved and funds channeled towards the rehabilitation of dilapidated roads.
Happier times: Robert Mugabe Celebrating his 90th Birthday in 2013

But party stalwarts’ say their decision cannot be overtaken, insisting the February 21st movement, initiated in 1986 will proceed.

“Just contrast this misappropriation of resources to what Tanzania’s President John Magufuli did, even cancelling an important event as independence celebrations, and allocating the money to issues such as ensuring access to health for the people,” Welshman Ncube, an opposition leader said.

Sadly, just like in 2017 on Mugabe’s birthday, Europe decided to renew sanctions against the first family.

“We have engaged Europe and we hoped sooner than later they would remove sanctions upon the head of state. They don’t have and did not state reasons for the renewed sanctions,” moaned Samuel Mbengegwi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs then.

Life in obscurity 
Since his unceremonious ouster, Mugabe has elected a life of solitude. He decided to remain silent and spending time on trips to get medical attention like before. 

In his honour, the Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day, formerly denoted as the 21 February for years as part of its 21st February Movement which was established in 1986 was declared.

Lobbying by the ruling party youth arm, convinced Mnangagwa to declare the day, on 24 November 2017 during his inauguration, just days after the bloodless coup.

In 2018, Mugabe chose to celebrate his 94th birthday in private, unlike previous occasions when he was mobbed by children and party devotees chanting his name praises.  

The family has wisely decided not to appear in public like they were known to, concentrating on their farming business, while they struggle to come to terms as ordinary citizens. 
Mugabe's Health has been Deteriorating 

A solitary march for the current president will be held on Mugabe's birthday, showing his waning influence that he once exerted upon the nation for four decades. 

After his image leaked on social media, Zimbabweans who endured his vicious era chose to be lenient to the once feared ruler. 

"His Sun is setting & the best gift for his 95th birthday would be #Forgiveness from Zimbabweans..l DON'T know what he desires but em sure he had love for his country & forgiveness would be the greatest gift regardless of past atrocities," mentioned one commentator.

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