Zimbabwe Honours Mugabe, Declares Birthday Public Holiday
“It is hereby declared that February 21 of every year henceforth shall be a public holiday to be known as the Robert Mugabe National Youth Day,” The Herald newspaper reported, citing a government gazette.
February 21st is former president Robert Mugabe’s birthday. The honour which was reported today is coming six days after the long-time ruler stepped down.
AFP reports the move follows intense lobbying by the ruling ZANU-PF party’s youth league and came weeks after the country’s biggest airport was renamed after the veteran politician who ruled Zimbabwe for nearly 40 years.
His tenure withstood repeated claims of hanging on to power through brutal repression of dissent, election rigging and corruption, until concerted pressure from the military finally forced to quit.
Parliament had begun proceedings to impeach Mugabe for allowing his wife and allies to “capture” the ruling party.
The 93-year-old was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was vice president until Mugabe fired him just weeks ago.
The declaration of his birthday as a holiday is the latest of many accolades.
Zimbabwe’s school of intelligence was named after him while a $1-billion Robert Mugabe university is also in the works.
Several buildings and roads across the country are also named after him.
Zimbabwe’s opposition accuse Mugabe of spending scarce money on wasteful projects despite the country being forced to grapple with poverty and an unemployment rate of more than 90 percent.
Mugabe, aged 93, wept after he agreed to resign and handed in his resignation to the parliament, a local newspaper, the Standard newspaper said in its Sunday edition.
The paper said Mugabe cried and lamented “betrayal by his lieutenants” and pressure from the military and his party after 37 years in power.
Mugabe was scheduled to attend President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s, his former loyalist, inauguration on Friday but he eventually declined, citing weakness as a result of his age. Mugabe chose to watch the inauguration from his home.
The newspaper quoted sources within Mugabe’s inner circle as saying the devout Catholic held a rosary as he told his close associates and a team of negotiators at his “Blue House” Harare mansion that he was resigning. He announced the decision as parliament heard a motion to impeach him.