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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Birthday Bash in Trouble As Donors Shy Away.

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare) | 21 February 2009 | Harare - Zimbabwe

PREPARATIONS for this year's 85th birthday bash for President Robert Mugabe have reportedly hit a snag amid reports that the fund raising committee is struggling to raise enough resources for the event.

This year's 21st February Movement celebrations have been slated for February 28 in Chinhoyi.

However, less than a week before the celebrations are held, the fundraising committee is still running around for donors who can bankroll the event which has attracted thousands of people in the past years.

Reports say there is little enthusiasm from traditional party donors who have been alarmed by the establishment of the inclusive government. Some of these donors are politicians that have been left out of the new government.

Also, because of the changing political environment, parastatals which had donated to the celebrations in the past have been hesitant to do so.

Many of these parastatals now fall under the control of MDC ministers.

To make up for their huge shortfall, the fundraising committee has arranged a late dinner dance at Rainbow Towers in the capital on Wednesday night.

Zanu-PF Secretary for Youth Affairs, Absalom Sikhosana confirmed the event would take place.

"Yes, the event will be held at the Rainbow towers on Wednesday night and it is going to be a fundraising dinner," he said.

Sikhosana however said that they had been receiving donations from the country's 10 provinces although he refused to disclose how much the fundraising committee had managed to raise so far.

The donations are in the form of cash as well as cattle or foodstuffs, he said.

On reports that the fundraising committee was failing to meet its target, he said, "We are operating on a shoe string budget. The most important thing is not about donations.

"Even without a single cent, the celebrations will go on," he said.

He, however, disclosed that they were still expecting some donations from different parts of the country.

The 21st February movement celebrations have been criticised for consuming huge sums of money while most Zimbabweans are trapped in poverty.

However, Sikhosana dismissed criticism of the event. "The problem is that at times, we tend to politicise something that is totally apolitical. We are just after our noble objectives that we have set for ourselves and nothing else."

He would not disclose the noble objectives. Currently, about seven million Zimbabweans are in urgent need of food aid and face a severe threat of a cholera outbreak that has so far claimed more than 3 700 lives.

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