At 93rd birthday bash, Robert Mugabe says he won't quit
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has marked his 93rd birthday with lavish celebrations, addressing his own mortality in a speech, but showing no signs of quitting politics.
Thousands of government supporters, some wearing clothing adorned with Mugabe's image in younger days converged in Matabeleland for Saturday's birthday bash and show of strength for the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Also wearing a multi-colored suit emblazoned with his own image and dark glasses, Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, told the crowd he had no intention of stepping down.
Speaking for over an hour, Mugabe said he would not impose his successor and that if ZANU-PF party felt he should retire, it would hold an extraordinary congress to choose a new leader.
His hands gripping the podium, Mugabe spoke slowly saying at times he felt alone, but that he has a mission and mandate as Zimbabwe 's leader and appealed for the ruling party to overcome its divisions.
ZANU-PF officials said hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on the birthday bash at a school in Matobo, just outside Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Bulawayo.
But critics said the money should have been used for other priorities amid a deepening economic crisis.
According to the International Monetary Fund, Zimbabwe's economy is set to contract by 2.5 percent this year.
More than 80 percent of the workforce scrapes a living in the informal sector, while the government has failed to pay civil servants' salaries on time since June.
Mugabe celebrated his actual birthday on the 21st February with a smaller cake-cutting ceremony.