Nobody ready to pay for Mugabe's birthday bash

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Harare, Feb.21 (ANI): Nobody wants to pay for Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe's 85th birthday bash. So far, fundraisers have been unable to raise the 17,500 pounds needed to stage a party in central Chinhoyi next week.

Supporters of Mugabe, who turns 85 today, have arranged a dinner dance at Harare's plush Rainbow Towers hotel to try to make up for the 10, 500 pound shortfall.

A report in the Scotsman says that a pick-up truck is also to be raffled to raise funds, with state-run ZBC radio running prime-time adverts urging the public to buy raffle tickets before next Friday.

Angry members of the 21st February Movement, which exists solely to raise funds each year for Mugabe's party, have complained that businessmen and farmers who pledged cash and livestock to feed party-goers haven't kept their promises.

They want an inventory made of all those who pledged cash and 80 cattle, 70 goats, pigs, grain and loaves of bread to the party so they can check up on defaulters, according to a radio report.

With Zimbabwe bankrupt, Mugabe's supporters have already been forced to scale down their fundraising targets for this year's celebrations. Last year, they raised the equivalent of 175,000 pounds for the party that was held in the southern town of Beitbridge.

Mugabe and his family have got used to lavish presidential birthday parties while the rest of the nation starves, stoking tension in this once-prosperous country.

Seven million Zimbabweans need food aid this month, according to the UN's World Food Programme. Zimbabwe's total population numbers around 11 million, although that figure is being eroded by cholera, Aids, malnutrition and the steady flight of tens of thousands of desperate Zimbabweans, mostly into neighboring South Africa. (ANI)

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