Mugabe celebrates his 90th birthday

Marondera - Thousands turned out on Sunday to wish happy birthday to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who threw 90 balloons into the air to mark his 90th year and continuing hold on power.

Fresh off the plane from Singapore, where the nonogenarian president had travelled for eye surgery, Mugabe arrived early at Marondera stadium to start his birthday celebrations.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. Photo: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi. Credit: AP

Dressed in a black suit, red tie and white shirt, he moved around the venue on the back of a truck waving his fist to a crowd made up largely of school children bussed in for the occasion, according to an AFP journalist on the scene.

Huge cakes were on display in the centre of the stadium, while the crowd wore red scarfs, as is traditional on the president's birthday, and waved national flags.

A series of speakers led the crowd in chanting slogans of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, which has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist ever since the former rebel led the country to independence from Britain in 1980.

Other chants denounced the opposition MDC, which has spent years unsuccessfully trying to overturn Mugabe's rule in the face of catastrophic economic decline.

Senior government officials, security chiefs and Mugabe's children were also among the well-wishers on Sunday. - Sapa-AFP