Zimbabwe has declared a national holiday to celebrate President Robert Mugabe’s birthday on February 21.
The veteran politician has been in power since 1980 but his opponents are accusing him of brutal repression and devastating the economy.
“In declaring this day, we would like to highlight to our youths the values and principles so brilliantly displayed by President R.G. Mugabe which have resulted in an exemplary life that our youths can emulate,” a state-owned Herald newspaper quoted home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo as saying.
He said the cabinet made the decision after years of lobbying by the ruling party which also said it wants the country’s main airport named after Mugabe.
Last week the cash-strapped government announced plans to build a $1 billion Robert Mugabe university, joining several other facilities named after him including the government’s school of intelligence, a main street in the capital Harare and the highway to his rural home.
Mugabe, now 93 years old, first came to power after Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain.
He says he plans to contest elections due next year despite his advanced age and concerns over his frail health.
Zimbabwe’s economy has been run down, with output halved since 2000, while many basic services have collapsed and government salaries use up more than 90 percent of all public revenue.