Muted Celebration as Robert Mugabe turns 94

Ousted Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe celebrated his 94th birthday on Saturday with a private black-tie event hosted by his family.

The low key bash was a far cry from the lavish carnivals that have marked Mugabe’s birthdays in the past.

Though his actual birthday, on Wednesday 21 February, was declared an annual public holiday for the first time this year, the occasion was greeted without fanfare and the usual fawning congratulations from official media and government agencies.

“The party is only for close family members and friends. It is not for the public and it is strictly by invite,” Louisa Nyanhongo, a member of Mugabe’s close circle, told AFP.

An invitation card for the birthday that appeared on social media said the party was at “Blue Roof” — the lavish private residence where Mugabe and his wife Grace, 52, have been living in apparent seclusion since he was ousted three months ago.

During his 37-year reign, Mugabe typically celebrated his birthday with a long speech and vast birthday cakes – with the biggest cake said to weigh the same number of kilogrammes as Mugabe’s age.

Earlier this week, Mugabe was photographed with Grace meeting the new African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat in Harare.

It was the first time the couple was seen since his ousting from power last year.

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