Mugabe Parties Lavishly on Broke Zimbabwe's Dime

Daughter's wedding costs $5M; his own birthday $1M
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2014 1:00 AM CDT
Mugabe Parties Lavishly on Broke Zimbabwe's Dime
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe,left, and his wife Grace arrive for celebrations to mark his 90th birthday in Marondera, east of Harare, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. In July, Mugabe who has ruled the nation for 33 years since 1980, won disputed elections for another five-year term that will take him to...   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Zimbabwe's economy is in the tank, and recent flooding that stranded 60,000 hasn't helped. The country already has $11 billion in overdue loans, and it's not eligible for World Bank and IMF assistance to obtain a needed $20 million in disaster relief. China appears to have bailed on a rumored bailout. Yet somehow, President Robert Mugabe has found enough in taxpayer coffers to fund his daughter's $5 million wedding—not to mention a $5 million pair of North Korean-built statues of himself, as well as his own $1 million 90th birthday bash last month, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

"Mugabe and his government have lost it and all they care about now is the accumulation of wealth and strengthening their hold on power," says a former finance minister turned opposition leader. Bona Mugabe was married March 1 at her father's home, with the heads of state of South Africa, Zambia, and Equatorial Guinea in attendance. The president held his birthday at a stadium; 10,000 turned out. The North Korean statues include a 30-foot, $3.5-million bronze Mugabe for Harare and a $1.5 million one for a planned $3.8 million museum in Mugabe's home town. Meanwhile, some government ministers are making more than $40,000 a month while average Zimbabweans earn about $300. (More Robert Mugabe stories.)

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