via I feel like a boy of 9: Mugabe 23/02/2014 NewZimbabwe
THOUSANDS of people turned out Sunday to wish happy birthday to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who threw 90 balloons into the air to mark his 90th year and continuing hold on power.
Fresh off the plane from Singapore, where he had travelled for eye surgery last week, Mugabe was in typically defiant mood as he launched his birthday celebrations at Marondera stadium, east of the capital Harare.
Dressed in a black suit, red tie and white shirt, he moved around the venue on the back of a truck waving his fist to a crowd made up largely of school children bussed in for the occasion.
In a speech that lasted over an hour, Mugabe told the crowd that the election win for his Zanu PF party last year had confounded his critics in the West.
“Those opponents of ours who had imposed sanctions on us were baffled,” he said.
“The truth is Zanu PF won, Zanu PF had the support. Zanu PF had the message, had the history, Zanu PF has the people.”
Before his speech, ambassadors from China and Russia presented Mugabe with special messages of congratulation from their presidents.
“At times I think of how I have survived over the years, escaping death, many of my friends and relatives have died. It saddens me at times, but at the same time you are happy that you have turned 90.”
His party won another resounding victory in August – taking two-thirds of the vote – although critics say he used state power to intimidate voters and opponents.
Huge cakes were on display in the centre of the stadium, while the crowd wore red scarves, as is traditional on the president’s birthday, and waved national flags.
A series of speakers led the crowd in chanting Zanu PF slogans, and denouncing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which has spent years unsuccessfully trying to overturn Mugabe’s rule in the face of catastrophic economic decline.
Mugabe returned to familiar anti-colonial themes in his speech, saying: “The British – we don’t hate you, we only love our country. We love our freedom.”