Zimbabwe’s Education ministry has ordered schools to close on Thursday and Friday in preparation for President Robert Mugabe’s 93rd birthday to be held on Saturday in Matobo, Matabeleland South province, infuriating opposition parties.
Primary and Secondary Education minister, Lazarus Dokora said schooling is suspended only in Matabeleland, a directive widely interpreted as a security measure to guarantee Mugabe’s safety following threats to hold protests against the holding of his birthday party in Matobo.
The directive follows moves by Mugabe’s Zanu PF to declare 21 February, the day he was born, a national holiday.
Social movements such as Tajamuka/Sesijikile have threatened to hold demonstrations to coincide with Mugabe’s birthday bash to be held on Saturday in protest over the holding of a near $2million grand feast when millions in Zimbabwe are suffering.
ZimPF interim spokesperson, Methuseli Moyo described the Education ministry’s directive to close schools for Mugabe’s birthday as insane.
“We can’t have such disruptions just because of someone’s birthday. This is nonsense and such nonsense only happens in a country ruled by a dictator who thinks what matters in the country is just himself, his wife, their children and their birthdays, weddings and trips to everywhere where they have not been banned from travelling to. Zimbabwe is indeed Mugabe’s colony.
“That is why some are even praying for his death,” Moyo said.
Matabeleland has always remained a hot-bed for Mugabe’s Zanu PF party following the 1980’s Gukurahundi mass killings after he sent a North Korean trained militia to southern Zimbabwe to ostensibly crack against dissent to his rule.
According to the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice (CCJP), about 20 000 civilians’ dead following the crackdown. Mugabe has refused to apologise for the mass killings, only saying the massacres were a “moment of madness”.
The choice of venue for his 93rd birthday, Matopo, has infuriated opposition parties and human rights groups who described it as insensitive since the area lies a few kilometres from the Gukurahundi mass graves.