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Zimbabwe’s Mugabe marks 94th birthday in near solitude

Associated Press

 

Zimbabwe’s former leader Robert Mugabe was celebrating his first birthday since his resignation in near solitude on Wednesday, far from the lavish affair of years gone by.

The government that removed him with military assistance in November declared Feb. 21, Mugabe’s birthday, a national holiday.

But there were no signs of past celebrations, no giant cakes or thousands of supporters wearing clothing with Mugabe’s image, no live state television broadcasts.

The 94-year-old, once a fiery and tireless speaker, has been quiet since he resigned in the face of impeachment efforts by the ruling party. He has not made public appearances. He skipped the funeral Tuesday of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, sending written condolences instead.

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On Wednesday, former cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo shared photos on Twitter of a severe-looking Mugabe in a suit sitting next to his wife, Grace, in what resembled an official portrait.

State television showed a live broadcast of new President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaking at the commissioning of equipment expected to revive a collapsed rail system. He did not mention Mugabe in his speech.

Newspapers in the southern African nation that once carried thick supplements with birthday messages from struggling state firms and government ministries treated the day as a non-event.

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Mugabe, who dominated politics since taking over in 1980 after decades of white minority rule, was becoming a fading memory to many.

“That guy, where is he?” asked street vendor Tinashe Mute. Like many, he was busy hustling to make a living in a country whose economy struggles to recover from decades of ruin.

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