MDC-T organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe, has urged President Robert Mugabe to turn his 92nd birthday celebrations into a charity event, visit hospitals and the needy, as his leadership had left the majority of the population impoverished.
NQOBANI NDLOVU/TATENDA CHITAGU
Bhebhe made the remarks yesterday as preparations for Mugabe’s birthday bash, slated for Masvingo province this month, gather momentum, with ruling party youths targeting to raise $800 000 for the festivities.
“The $800 000 should be spent on worthy causes like replacing dilapidated equipment for hospitals or just buy food for starving people,” the Nkayi South legislator said.
“There is no reason to spend all this money celebrating a birthday for someone who, with all due respect, should no longer be President because he is too old for the job.
“Instead of blowing money, which is needed elsewhere, Mugabe should spend the day visiting hospitals and other needy areas of our country. Thereafter, he should use the day to announce his resignation.”
Bhebhe queried what Mugabe was celebrating, as the country’s fortunes had deteriorated with him at the helm.
“What exactly is Mugabe celebrating when the roads in cities are now littered with potholes, when millions of people go for days without proper meals, when the economy is on a free fall, when thousands are losing jobs?
“Even the most powerful man in the world, United States President Barack Obama, celebrates his birthday, but surely it will not be turned into a national event, as is the case in Zimbabwe, a poor nation,” he said.
This came as Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president, Takavafira Zhou, claimed that an estimated 15 000 teachers in Masvingo had been ordered to make financial contributions towards the celebrations.
“We have been inundated with calls and reports from teachers from all over the province saying they are being intimidated and forced to pay $5 to $7 depending with the districts. Those who refuse are facing threats of violence come election time,” Zhou said.
But, Zanu PF provincial chairperson Ezra Chadzamira denied the allegations.
“No, no, no, that is not true. We do not seek donations from poor people,” he said.
However, one teacher from Bikita claimed they had been approached and succumbed to the request out of fear.
“We had no option but to pay. They threatened to mobilise demonstrations to evict us from the school,” the teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said.
Zhou said it was extortion to force the teachers, who were yet to get last year’s bonus, to fund a private party function. “It should not be mandatory to donate towards the President’s party,” he said.
Zhou said his union will soon petition Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora over the issue.