PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday said he was lonely at 90 years as most of his friends and relatives have died.
Addressing an estimated 10 000 guests attending his 90th birthday celebrations at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera, Mugabe said he always took solace at the fact that new babies were being born every day.
“What does it mean to be 90? That he is now 90 and saying congratulations. Most people are gone, my relatives, my friends. I think of that, but I brag that they are new ones being born. Life goes on as others are born every day. You can get sad and say others are gone, but also think that youths are being born,” he said.
On his advanced age, Mugabe said: “I feel energetic like a boy of nine. I have dropped the zero now and like we sing in our Roman Catholic Church, I can’t thank you (God) enough for the gift of life.”
Mugabe is now the only surviving member of his family following the recent death of his younger sister Bridgette.
The Zanu PF leader, who has been in power since 1980 and is among Africa’s few oldest and longest-serving presidents, has also lost many of his local and regional political contemporaries.
Speaking at his million-dollar birthday bash where a record 90 beasts were fed to the guests, Mugabe dressed down the party’s “ambitious” politburo and central committee members, saying they should respect and understand that provincial chairpersons were in charge of provinces.
“Provincial chairmen are bigger than anyone in provinces, not politiburo or central committee members. That has to be known and understood by over-ambitious members of these organs.”
On corruption, Mugabe said: “If we put people in charge of banks, they take people’s money because they want to promote themselves, that stealing will not be allowed. Where is that discipline? What is not yours is not yours, don’t touch it.
“We say there should be correction on that and we have to straighten up issues. Don’t be surprised if they are arrested, even brothers and relatives. We want straightforward, honest people who will respect government property, property which does not belong to them.”
He deplored the intra-party violence that recently rocked the opposition MDC-T party, saying: “You heard about violence at the headquarters of (Morgan) Tsvangirai’s party, youths beating up their leaders, just think of that. You don’t raise your hand to beat up your senior. You may quarrel, but the best you can do is to complain, but not to beat up seniors.”
Mugabe said he had learnt that Tsvangirai was behind the violence.
“We can’t have a party of that nature in government or dominate seats in urban areas like Bulawayo and Harare,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980.