By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
03 March 2014
There has been strong criticism of the Mugabe family for splurging $5 million on a lavish wedding ceremony for daughter Bona, while not doing enough to help ordinary Zimbabweans who are starving in recently flooded areas and others stricken by disease.
First daughter Bona tied the knot to Simba Chikore on Saturday at an extravagant ceremony attended by at least 4,000 guests, who included diplomats, Heads of State, government officials, church leaders, music stars and foreign dignitaries.
Criticism has focused on the amount of money spent on the affair, with Robert Mugabe himself presenting the couple with $100,000 in addition to thousands more presented by other guests who also gave cattle as wedding presents.
This took place while government is failing to help thousands of families from the Tokwe Mukosi Dam area that were recently relocated to Chingwizi Camp in Nuanetsi and are in dire need of food, water and shelter.
Statistics availed by government’s Civil Protection Unit show that over 150, 000 tonnes of grains are needed and some families are going without food for as many as four days, according to the Daily News newspaper. A shortage of tents has also meant that thousands are sleeping out in the open.
But there were no shortages at the wedding. A local mining company is reported to have presented $100,000 to the couple. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) also threw in $10,000, despite claiming that they are failing to transport prisoners to court because there is no money for fuel. In addition, food and other services are in short supply in Zimbabwe’s prisons.
Luke Zunga, from the Global Zimbabwe Forum in South Africa, said the whole affair showed that the country is in the hands of people who are very much out of touch with ordinary Zimbabweans and could not care less what happens to them.
“It follows on the expensive birthday (Mugabe’s $1 million 90th celebration). Now there is the wedding extravaganza and it’s not good for the country. I think they have no appetite for running the country, they are just doing what they like. They own it,” Zunga told SW Radio Africa.
“There is no government in Zimbabwe right now it’s just one guy doing what he wants. So they can spend money amidst poverty and high unemployment. Varikudga vachichata (They are eating and getting married),” Zunga added.
Questions have also been raised as to where Mugabe managed to raise the money to pay for such a lavish ceremony, given that his salary in 2009 was reported to be only $1,733 per month including allowances. The figures were unveiled in the national budget in 2009 and reported by the local press.
Zunga said: “There is no water. There is no electricity and you find leaders flying back and forth and fighting some battle with the British which doesn’t exist. In a country which is desperate, there is no planning for the future.”