Donations Dry Up for Mugabe's 85th Birthday Bash
Unity government reduces Zanu-PF's ability to intimidate
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2009 2:14 PM CST
In this Jan. 26, 2009, file photo Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe looks on before the start of the Extra-Ordinary Summit at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria, South Africa.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Celebrations are underway in Zimbabwe this week to honor President Robert Mugabe’s 85th birthday, but the country's economic crisis, cholera epidemic, and shifting balance of power have dried up donations for the usually over-the-top festivities, the Times of London reports. Officials of his Zanu-PF party aimed to raise $300,000 for an official party this weekend, but farmers and businessmen have found the courage to spurn thuggish officials demanding donations.

With opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai now prime minister, the Times adds, Mugabe also received only five pages of obsequious birthday messages in the Herald newspaper, off from 16 last year. Officials from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic change now run many of the agencies that previously sent greetings.