A PROPOSAL by Zanu PF to declare President Robert Mugabe’s birthday a public holiday has attracted widespread condemnation from opposition parties, who accused the ruling party of seeking to abuse State resources to idolise its 91-year-old leader, instead of addressing the economic meltdown.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
The opposition parties yesterday said introducing a new public holiday would further cripple the economy, as industry would be obliged to shut down.
Mugabe turns 92 on February 21 and as per Zanu PF tradition, a big bash, estimated to cost over $800 000, will be thrown in his honour in the drought- stricken Masvingo province next month.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said such “bootlicking” had no place in a democratic Zimbabwe.
“As a nation, Zimbabwe should promptly move away from this medieval and archaic tradition of creating strong personalities as opposed to creating strong institutions,” he said.
“The call by the Zanu PF youth league for the government to declare a public holiday to commemorate Robert Mugabe’s birthday on February 21 is an absurdity of the highest order.
“This is the height of bootlicking and it ought to be condemned in the strongest terms possible.”
Gutu said those calling for the declaration of Mugabe’s birthday a holiday were “misguided sycophants”.
“A few Zanu PF sycophants might want to deify and hero-worship Robert Mugabe, but these few misguided people must be told, in no uncertain terms, that their hero has caused the suffering of millions of Zimbabweans,” he said.
“We have more than enough public holidays already and the last thing Zimbabwe needs right now is another useless and thoroughly undeserved public holiday.”
MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said more energy should be directed towards productive issues instead of “glorifying an individual who has failed to run the country”.
“In our view, that is a preposterous proposal,” he said.
“Zanu PF fat cats are always preoccupied with the needs and wants of one person and not concerned with the sick economy and dilapidated infrastructure. The MDC views this as a misguided decision by Mugabe’s praise singers.”
On Monday, Zanu PF youth secretary Pupurai Togarepi said they had submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Justice and were fretting over delays in declaring February 21 a public holiday.
Effervescent Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo also supported the declaration of Mugabe’s birthday as a public holiday.
“All things considered and without prejudice, February 21 deserves to be a public holiday celebrated as Robert Mugabe Day in Zimbabwe,” he wrote on his twitter account.
Moyo also suggested a university be named after the veteran ruler.
The move comes as another Zanu PF youth movement is lobbying Harare City Council to provide land for construction of a stadium to be named after Mugabe.
“At the moment we are thinking of naming a university after RGM,” Moyo posted.
Representatives of the Zanu PF-aligned Youth Against Poverty recently approached Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni requesting for land to construct a stadium in honour of the President.
National Constitutional Assembly spokesperson Madock Chivasa said: “Instead of coming up with such comic proposals, the corrupt Zanu PF government must concentrate on finding solutions to the problems faced by ordinary Zimbabweans.”
Jacob Mafume of the People’s Democratic Party said honouring Mugabe in such a way would not change the plight of Zimbabweans.
He said more focus should be on turning around the economy, putting food on the table and providing jobs instead of continuously pampering Mugabe with accolades.
Besides the jamboree in Masvingo, a musical gala, as well as a football tournament, have been organised to honour Mugabe.
Political activist and commentator Setfree Mafukidze described the proposal as naive.
“It is naive and unfortunate that we have youths who advocate for a Robert Mugabe Day when 90% of the youths are unemployed,” he said.
“It is Mugabe’s responsibility to create a conducive environment, which will accommodate university graduates and all those eligible for employment to get jobs.”
Political analyst Takura Zhangazha said: “The reality of the matter is that such a public holiday would essentially be regarded more as a ruling party creation than a wholesale national endorsement of the intention to honour a serving President.”
But, Togarepi insisted he was unapologetic on the issue, saying it was long overdue.
Togarepi described Mugabe as an iconic leader, both locally and globally, adding no amount of money or presents would match the love the Zanu PF leader had given to the nation.