JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 21 — President Robert G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe turned 83 on Wednesday to the strains of the song “God Bless President Mugabe” on state‐controlled radio, along with an interview on state television, a 16‐page paean to his rule in Harare’s daily newspaper and the prospect of a grand birthday party — costly enough to feed thousands of people for months, his critics argued — on Saturday.
Zimbabwe’s economy is so dire that bread vanished from store shelves across the country on Wednesday after bakeries shut down, saying government price controls were requiring them to sell loaves at a loss. The price controls are supposed to shield consumers from the nation’s rampant inflation, which now averages nearly 1,600 percent annually.
Mugabe is a piece of work: Not only has his thugocracy destroyed the civil society necessary for a healthy nation and economy, not only has his monetary policy imploded the Zimbabwean currency, not only will history remember him as (in the words of Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu) a “caricature of an African dictator,” but he has the audacity to stage a phony national celebration of his birthday.
Hat tip to the NYT for the great headline, photo, and endquote.