100 pupils to fly for Mugabe Vic Falls bash

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“Most of them are in plain clothes such that if you are not conversant with security issues you wouldn’t tell whether they are security agents or ordinary people going about their business.

More than 100 children selected from the country’s 10 provinces, who share a birthday with President Robert Mugabe, will be flown to Victoria Falls to attend his 91st birthday celebrations scheduled for next week, where elephant and other game meat is on the menu.

RICHARD MUPONDE
SENIOR REPORTER

Mugabe turns 91 this Saturday and as has become the norm, the 21st February Movement has organised a birthday bash for him in Victoria Falls on February 28.

This year’s celebrations are being held under the theme “Celebrating the birth of Gushungo, the icon of Zimbabwe’s revolution and champion of youth empowerment”.

Matabeleland North Zanu PF youth chairperson, Tamuka Nyoni, confirmed yesterday that the children will be going to the resort town.

“We are prepared to host them so that they enjoy their day with His Excellency President Mugabe,” he said.

“All February 21st children will be well catered for.”

A lot of food has been lined up for the day and an elephant is part of the menu after it was donated by Woodlands Wildlife Conservancy.

The new development comes as hotels and lodges in the resort town are all fully-booked for the duration of the birthday bash.

Tourism operators said Mugabe’s bash had brought them more business than regional summits normally hosted in the resort town. Reports said about 622 government delegates are booked in the resort town ahead of the bash for a period of four days from February 26 to 28.

Delegates will start arriving in the resort town on February 26.

Children will converge at the Victoria Falls Farm School on February 27 for the birthday reception, but Mugabe will only jet into the resort town the following day for the main event at Elephant Hills Hotel.

The crowd expected has doubled, with organisers of the event saying they were expecting about 20 000 people to attend, meaning more mouths to be fed than the previous bashes.

This has brought smiles on the faces of tourism players as the huge influx of delegates for the bash translates into profits for them.

Employers’ Association for Safari and Tourism Operators, president and Shearwater public relations manager Clement Mukwasi yesterday confirmed the development and said it was a real test of their capacity as an industry to handle big events.

“The occasion is a massive one,” he said.

“It’s going to bring domestic tourists into Victoria Falls like never before.

“It’s a real test of our capacity to handle the local market as an industry.”

Mugabe’s 90th birthday bash on February 23 2014 was attended by about 10 000 in Harare and 90 beasts were reportedly slaughtered for the occasion with costs reaching a staggering $1 million.

This year the money needed for the bash could surpass that of 2014 as the birthday bash is being held more than 800km from the capital.