Zimbabwe’s first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa threw a birthday celebration for her husband, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, on Friday evening at State House in Harare.
Mnangagwa, who turned 81 on Friday, celebrated with a lavish birthday dinner surrounded by family, government officials and dignitaries.
He received gifts of paintings, an antique Saint Petersburg Imperial porcelain plate and, from his sons, an all-expenses paid fishing trip on which they will join him.
Mnangagwa’s daughters-in-law gifted him a three-tier cake, with each tier significant — the first represented the president’s farm, the second “special moments in the president’s life” and the third his “determination overcoming trials and tribulations”.
The attendees, who were dressed to the nines, danced and sang along to Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday, while wishing Mnangagwa well.
The president said he felt “humbled” and thanked everyone who attended the celebration.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko sent a birthday message to Mnangagwa saying: “You have an extensive political experience which perfectly matches such qualities of yours as the ability to listen to your fellow countrymen, to take care of their wellbeing first and foremost, to ensure their right to a decent future, and to make important decisions and take responsibility for them.
“Such character traits are forged over time, take a lot of effort, require a lot of patience. But it is these important qualities that today contribute to the development of the country to which you have devoted your whole life and career.”
Earlier in the day, addressing politburo and party members during another birthday celebration at Zanu-PF headquarters in Harare, Mnangagwa said the country’s recent elections were a “resounding victory” for the party.
“We have just concluded our general elections which we have resoundingly won. This time around when we had our general elections it was peaceful, before, during and after the elections, so we are grateful to our people from across the country,” he said.
Mnangagwa added Zanu-PF was gaining in strength.
“We had massive attendances at our rallies — this has never happened before. We are getting stronger and stronger as Zanu-PF and our detractors are getting angrier and angrier. I enjoy when our detractors are getting angry, if they attack me or Zanu-PF, then l know we are doing the right thing.”
Mnangagwa’s birthday celebration fuelled criticism that the president is disconnected from reality in a country struggling to cope with political and economic crises.