Zimbabwe Declares National Holiday for Ousted Dictator Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, the former political prisoner turned guerrilla leader, swept to power in 1980
AFP/JEKESAI NJIKIZANA

Zimbabweans were literally dancing in the streets last week when dictator Robert Mugabe’s four decades of tyranny came to an ignominious end, but on Friday the government declared a national holiday in Mugabe’s honor. February 21st will henceforth be known as Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day.

“Calls for former President Mugabe’s birthday to be made a national holiday were adopted by Government in August following intense lobbying by the Zanu-PF Youth League. The day coincides with the 21st February Movement celebrations meant to commemorate the principles and ideals that former president Mugabe stood for,” explains the Harare Herald.

Interim dictator Emmerson Mnangagwa made it clear he has no problem with showing the deposed Mugabe respect for his accomplishments, which include a 90 percent unemployment rate, making it easy for everyone to take the new holiday off when February 21st rolled around.

“To me personally, he remains a father, mentor, comrade-in-arms and my leader. We thus say thank you to him and trust that our history will grant him his proper place and accord him his deserved stature as one of the founders and leaders of our nation,” Mnangagwa declared, to the dismay of those hoping for a dramatic shift away from Mugabe’s ruinous policies.

“Let me at this stage pay tribute to one of the, and the only surviving, founding fathers of our nation, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Let us all accept and acknowledge his immense contribution to the building of our nation,” Mnangagwa said at his inaugural ceremony on Friday.

93-year-old Mugabe was greatly relieved to retire at last, according to Jesuit priest Father Fidelis Mukonori, who was a mediator at the resignation negotiations.

Mukonori disputed reports that Mugabe wept and raged against his betrayal by high-ranking officials and military leaders. “When he finished his signature his face just glowed, no weeping unless there were angels weeping somewhere,” said the priest, stretching credulity even in Zimbabwe, where credulity is quite elastic.

“For me it was a sign that he was accepting that ‘ah this is done,’ he is relieved, not that he is aggrieved but relieved,” Mukonori added, following up with the somewhat incongruous detail that Mugabe decided to resign when he saw 60,000 people marching in the streets outside his estate and telling him to go.

Leaving aside the little embellishments about angels weeping as weary public servant Robert Mugabe finally laid aside the burden of office he carried so long for the good of all, there is a believable narrative of his ouster that says he knew he would not survive the coup, but held on to negotiate the best possible exit package for himself and his wife Grace.

According to AllAfrica, the Mugabes ended up with an impressive golden parachute: $10 million in a lump sum plus full salary for life, medical care, and security arrangements. Note that that is ten million dollars in U.S. currency. Ten million Zimbabwean dollars literally is not enough to buy groceries after 40 years of Mugabe’s blend of Marxist quackery and light-fingered kleptocracy.

The consolation prize for those critical of Mugabe’s rule, and fearful that Mnangagwa will continue it, is a viral photo of the Mugabes dressed as if for a funeral and watching the inauguration of his successor. Particular pleasure has been taken on social media with the expression on Grace Mugabe’s face:

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