ROBERT MUGABE spent £2m on his lavish inauguration as Zimbabwean president last month — some of the money given by China, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea — according to leaked documents from his party seen by The Sunday Times.
Mugabe won a landslide victory at elections in July amid widespread allegations of fraud. Britain, the European Union and America have refused to lift economic sanctions or endorse his victory, citing evidence of vote-rigging.
Critics of the regime pointed out there were no spontaneous parties to celebrate the 89-year-old’s victory. The inauguration, in which 60,000 supporters crammed into the national sports stadium in Harare to watch Mugabe being sworn in, appeared to be an attempt to prove he still enjoyed the backing of his countrymen.
Zimbabwean soldiers dished out free cans of soft drinks and tens of thousands of bags of fried chicken as the crowd watched musicians and entertainers flown in from Jamaica, South Africa and Zambia.
Many supporters were taken to the capital by buses and trains paid for by the government. Mugabe also funded the plane tickets of VIPs from neighbouring countries.
The World Food Programme has warned that 2.2m Zimbabweans, a quarter of the rural population, will be at risk of hunger next year.
The Zimbabwean parliament, which will be officially opened on September 17, is dominated by members of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party. Zanu-PF is expected to rule alone, rather than with the rival Movement for Democratic Change, with which it was in coalition before the election. This has prompted fears Mugabe will pursue more radical policies.