via Bona Mugabe’s wedding: Zimbabweans speak out March 3, 2014 by Everson Mushava and Moses Matenga NewsDay
ZIMBABWEANS have for the past fortnight watched in awe as the First Family extravagantly celebrated President Robert Mugabe’s 90th birthday and the wedding of his daughter Bona.
The lavish festivities, which reportedly gobbled about $6 million, come against the background of a country battling to provide urgent food aid to about 2,2 million people, among them victims of the recent floods who, according to Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, require $20 million in aid.
A whopping $1 million was spent at Mugabe’s birthday bash last week where 90 beasts were fed to the estimated 10 000 guests while an estimated $5 million was splurged for Bona’s wedding to her pilot husband Simba Chikore on Saturday, leaving ordinary Zimbabweans wondering at the source of the funds.
In a country that has had problems in distinguishing ruling party and government events, the concerns naturally rose.
Most services provided at the wedding were reportedly sourced from outside the country while the 4 000 invited guests comprised foreign dignitaries, three seating Heads of State and popular Congolese rhumba musician Koffi Olomide.
Although the two occasions are befitting celebrations of such magnitude for a Head of State, it is the costs involved that have set tongues wagging in a country which is in the middle of an economic crisis and a cash squeeze.
“This is the mother of all weddings. This is good for the First Family indeed, but where did the money for such a decorated private function come from when the country’s economy seems to be on its knees?” asked Tinashe Chamboko, a Harare resident.
A worker with the State-run Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda), who has gone for eight months without pay, said the lavish celebrations were a sign of misguided priorities by Mugabe’s government.
“The current state of affairs in the country is deplorable. Non-payment of salaries, electricity and water crises, among other problems, and I am beginning to doubt if Zanu PF is really concerned about our problems,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Another caller who also declined to be named said: “Millions of dollars are being used to please the Mugabe family instead of helping the needy. Heads of parastatals are looting money to please Mugabe instead of fulfilling their mandate.”
Political analyst Dumisani Nkomo said it would be unfortunate if Zanu PF used public resources to fund a private wedding, particularly at a time the economy was on the brink of collapse.
“But the problem is that it is hard to prove whether these are public or private funds. That is why we need a declaration of assets from public officials as intimated in the new Constitution,” Nkomo said.