PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, his family and thousands of Zanu PF supporters will today celebrate 91 years.
The veteran leader has been gifted with at a lavish party in Victoria Falls.
The jamboree has been funded to the tune of $1 million and several items have been donated to ensure the day is celebrated well.
For the Mugabes, today they can chant along with the Psalmist: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.”
In an interview with the State broadcaster ahead of the birthday celebrations, Mugabe said he could afford any doctor and had access to choice foods. But the cry from the suffering majority, most of whom live on not more than $1 a day, is that the President must spare a thought for them.
Mugabe and most of his ministers in Cabinet are living large while millions of Zimbabweans are battling to survive.
Zanu PF supporters will be caught up in the festivities and, for just a day, partake of the delicacies that on any other day they have no access to, including game meat as elephants and buffalos have fallen on the knife to ensure availability of meat.
Government officials, true to form like a movie, will cruise in their top-of-the-range vehicles including Mercedes Benzes, Range Rovers, V8 Land Cruisers, Prados and Jeep Cherokees bought with millions of taxpayers’ money. Those who prefer ease and luxury, the Mugabes included, will do short work of it by chartering flights to the resort town.
Mugabe said the secret to the long life he enjoyed was the wide variety of nutritious foods he ate when the thousands of ordinary people turning up in Victoria Falls do not afford three meals a day.
According to World Food Programme (WFP) statistics, Zimbabwe was in need of food aid due to the drought that faced the country in the last years. Over 565 000 people were food insecure.
“The number of people estimated to be food insecure for the 2014/15 consumption year is estimated to be 565 000 representing 6% of rural population and a steep decrease from last year’s figures,” the information on the WFP website states.
But what affects these mortals is far removed from the person who presides over the nation.
“I also ask myself where I derive the energy,” Mugabe said. “I do certain things I believe sustain life. I eat and eat well, not feeling my stomach, but eating what I believe sustains one.”
Mugabe also spoke of his regular visits to doctors for check-ups and how he follows their prescriptions. He said during the colonial era, there were well trained doctors who advised him during his school days to eat healthy.
Analysts have, however, accused Mugabe of running down the medical sector through his policies which have seen well-trained doctors leaving the country in pursuit of the proverbial greener for greener pastures. The few that have remained, most of them juniors, are also desperate to hit the road at the earliest opportunity.
While the thousands who will throng Victoria Falls will endure or enjoy the prevailing weather conditions of the day while staring the chefs on the top table, thousands of them do not afford basic health facilities.
Statistics shows that consulting a general practitioner was around $35 to $50 $35, while for over the weekend, it would be $60 to $70.
Most Zimbabweans are either out of work or in the informal sector that has become too crowded and making it difficult for any to raise the required finances.
“I do listen to doctors when they say white meat is the best, that of chicken, fish and pork. We had the best doctor growing up who told us to take at least a glass of milk every day and eggs every day,” Mugabe said.
He even complained that at home, he would protest if there is vegetables every day and wished he would go to cook for himself like he used to do when he was still a bachelor. He said he married late in life.
Millions of Zimbabweans, however, cannot afford vegetables every day and the best doctors, like in his case, who would advise him to take milk and eggs every day.
“Sweets, here and there, sugar and simple diet, some vegetables, not muriwo, muriwo every day,” he said.
Mugabe said he liked chicken that he bought from former Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono’s farm and also was into piggery after receiving pigs from Agriculture deputy minister Paddy Zhanda.
Zimbabweans cannot afford to consult doctors for serious health issues and that has seen many dying from diseases doctors could have dictated and addressed while politicians, including Mugabe, who recently said he takes his whole family outside the country for medical check-up regularly.
The costs of Zimbabwe’s healthcare was exposed last year after Tsvangirai got sick and had to pay a medical bill of $4 500 at Trauma centre in Avondale after spending three nights in hospital.
Even rights lawyers last year complained after government increased health service fees.
“ZLHR has raised concerns on the failure by the Zimbabwean government to put in place measures to revitalise the crumbling healthcare system and the grave consequences this has had on ordinary Zimbabweans, the statement said.
The lawyers said many people cannot afford the charges and that those suffering from chronic diseases such as kidney failure and cancer will require an estimated $300 per week to access services.
“People without health insurance, those suffering from chronic illnesses, the elderly and women will be the worst affected.
Invariably, the cost will be passed on to the patients whose lives and health are placed in further jeopardy by this arbitrary increase,” the rights lawyers said then.
Last year, government failed to address the concerns of the junior doctors who were forced to go to work without their issues heard and up to now, they remain bitter with the poor now on the receiving end of their bitterness.
The country’s main opposition MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said that Mugabe’s record is not that of serving the people, but ensuring he retains power at all costs.
“Mugabe has never had a heart for the people of Zimbabwe. He is as fake as they come. His whole political career is a case study of pursuit of personal political power and aggrandisement. He has never been genuinely bothered about the welfare of the ordinary people.
What he has always craved for was the acquisition of personal political power. That the legacy of his politics from day one,” Gutu said.