President of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe is now officially the world’s oldest leader, as he turned 92 on Sunday 21st February 2016. President Mugabe was born in Kutama Jesuit Mission in Southern Rhodesia, to a Malawian father who was a carpenter. He is the third of six children, although he lost his two elder brothers when he was young, Robert and his two younger sisters and a brother were left to fend for themselves after their father abandoned them.
Mugabe was trained as a teacher and taught in the then Rhodesia and Ghana before returning home to join the guerrilla war against white minority rule. He became Prime Minister on Zimbabwe’s Independence in 1980. The rest of the story is history as Mugabe has been the President of Zimbabwe for 29 years now, since 1987.
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The veteran leader, who has no plans to step down from his presidential seat for a successor, marked his 92nd birthday on Sunday in a grand style, as is usual with the great leader. Last year’s party was a massive feast with several elephants slaughtered and seven gigantic birthday cakes, one weighing 91 kilograms to mark his 91st birthday.
During his 92nd birthday party, the state media lauded Mugabe for his leadership since independence from Britain in 1980, while the opposition urged him to consider stepping down. In its 16-page special birthday supplement, the Sunday Mail described Mugabe as a “doyen of pan-Africanism.”
“Thank You Bob, We now have a voice, since 1980,” said the paper on its front cover. “Long live comrade Mugabe” read another message, adding: “We pride ourselves in your visionary, bold, insightful and fearless leadership.”
However, the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said Mugabe should think about the good of his country, which is in the grips of an economic crisis, whether it would not be better served if he steps down.
“Robert Mugabe should take time to reflect and say isn’t it time for me to pass on the baton,” MDC spokesman Obert Gutu told AFP.
Mugabe made a statement some time ago that he would rule until he turns 100. Despite his advanced age and recent health speculations, Mugabe has avoided naming a successor, prompting perennial infighting among rival factions in his ruling ZANU-PF party jostling for his post. His feebleness was ridiculed last year when he tripped and fell down steps at a televised ceremony.
He had also made a blunder sometime in September 2015, when he read a speech to parliament, not remembering he had delivered the same address a month earlier. He may be strong and agile, but age is definitely telling on the Zimbabwean president. Notwithstanding, Africa and the world at large joins in celebrating this great man of power.
Happy Birthday Sir Robert Gabriel Mugabe!