IN an ironic twist, President Robert Mugabe’s birthday bash has been moved from Matopos National Park to the Rhodes Estate Preparatory School (Reps), named after Cecil John Rhodes, who spearheaded Zimbabwe’s colonisation.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
There had been an outcry that the initial venue was too close to Bhalagwe, where there is a mass grave for people killed during the Gukurahundi massacres of 1983 to 1987, which could have forced organisers to move the venue, but the choice of Reps could be awkward for Mugabe, who blames most of the country’s problems on colonialism and Western interference.
Adding onto that, a number of Zanu PF activists have in the past demanded that Rhodes’ bones be dug up from the Matopos National Park and tossed into the Zambezi River.
However, the change of venue has not appeased those against Mugabe’s celebrations.
Anglistone Sibanda, the coordinator for Matobo Development Forum said Mugabe should not hold his bash in the area, arguing it’s akin to “spitting on our relatives’ graves”.
“This new site is just five kilometres from the mass graves and we are saying, without an apology from the government to those killed during Gukurahundi, this party should not come here,” he said.
Zanu PF youth boss, Kudzai Chipanga has insisted the choice of Matobo is informed by the ruling party’s thrust to “promote local tourism”.
Chipanga has scoffed at howls of disapproval from Matabeleland pressure groups.
Mugabe unleashed a North Korean-trained crack army unit, under the guise of hunting down dissidents in the 1980s.
What followed was an orgy of violence on a scale never seen before, leaving an estimated 20 000 civilians dead.
The Matobo Business Community has called on opposition parties and civic society groups to institute measures to stop Zanu PF from holding Mugabe’s 93rd birthday celebrations in the area.
Mugabe’s birthday celebrations are held under the banner of 21st February Movement.
Meanwhile, civil rights groups in Harare this week launched a campaign dubbed #21DaysCampaign to highlight 21 priority issues affecting the country. The groups are demanding that Mugabe attends to these issues before “cutting your cake”.