HUNDREDS of people who attended Presidents Robert Mugabe’s 91st birthday celebrations in Victoria Falls were left stranded after discovering that no accommodation had been organised for them.
The situation was so bad that some of the party goers, mainly Zanu PF supporters, slept inside the Chinotimba Stadium where they had attended the musical gala that ended in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Some of those that were bussed in from the country’s 10 provinces slept on pavements and bushy areas around the resort town on Friday night exposing themselves to dangerous wild animals such as elephants, which freely roam the town at night.
Students from universities and colleges around the country brought in for the celebrations slept in their buses while those with money drank the night away at the resort town’s numerous night spots.
Organisers of the event were not readily available for comment on the issue yesterday, but a source close to the celebrations confirmed that most ordinary people that attended the bash had no accommodation, as it was only arranged for VIPs and other invited delegates.
“We could not accommodate all the people and we should understand that most of the people came from outside Victoria Falls in their thousands, and there was no way we could have accommodated all of them,” the official said.
“It’s true that most of the people were stranded. Those who had come in buses were advised to sleep in their buses.”
The official said besides the accommodation blues, the event went well.
“It was a good event which all the people, despite failing to get accommodation, enjoyed. We did not get any complaints from the people affected meaning that they enjoyed being part of the delegates to celebrate with the president on his special day.”
The official said hotels and lodges in the resort town were fully booked well in advance of the celebrations.
Victoria Falls residents made a killing by offering some of their houses to delegates at exorbitant rates.
Calls had been made for the government to rationalise its rates with neighbouring Zambia and to open the border 24 hours with a view to have some delegates being accommodated in Livingstone.
Mugabe turned 91 on February 21 and as has become the norm, the 21st February Movement organised a lavish bash for him where 91 beasts and an elephant were slaughtered for food.