, HARARE, Feb 21 – Zimbabwe\’s state media on Sunday showered President Robert Mugabe with praise on his 86th birthday — while the country\’s foreign minister condemned Europe\’s move to extend sanctions.
State-owned companies, church groups and private firms placed full page birthday messages and ran special supplements in state media, hailing the veteran leader.
"A torch bearer of African self determination, an embodiment of black empowerment, who encapsulates the true African values, an icon of the emancipation of the black majority from the yoke of colonial oppression," parliament said in a statement on Sunday Mail.
Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since 1980 but faces increasing pressure from political rival Morgan Tsvangirai, was to spend the day quietly with his family. Public celebrations will be held next Saturday in Bulawayo, where thousands of people are expected to attend.
"Revered by friends and foes alike, you are well known for your unwavering principles and fierce commitment to redressing colonial injustices," the parliament message added.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who is on a list of European Union sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle, lambasted the bloc for renewing sanctions in his birthday statement.
"The renewal of illegal sanctions by the EU on the eve of your birthday emboldens us all to defend, promote and protect the national interests at all costs," said Mumbengegwi.
Last Tuesday, the European Union extended sanctions on Mugabe and his associates for another year, citing lack of progress in the power sharing government between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.