Remarkable People

ID #5190

Robert Mugabe, President, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe (1924-) is currently President of Zimbabwe. One of the leaders of the war of liberation against white-minority rule, he was elected head of government in 1980. He served as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987 and as executive head of state since 1987.

Mugabe rose to prominence in the 1960s as the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) during the conflict with Ian Smith’s regime. He was a political prisoner from 1964 to 1974. Upon release, Mugabe left Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) to re-join the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle (Rhodesian Bush War) from bases in Mozambique.

Mugabe emerged a hero in the minds of many Africans at the end of the war. He won the general election in 1980, the second in which of black Africans participated in large numbers. He became Prime Minister after calling for reconciliation between the erstwhile warring parties, including white Rhodesians and rival political groups.

The years following Zimbabwe's independence saw a split between two key belligerents who had fought alongside each other during the 1970’s and conflict between Mugabe's government and followers of Joshua Nkomo's pro-Marxist ZAPU erupted. Following thousands of deaths a new party, ZANU PF, was created.

In 1998, Mugabe's government supported the Southern African Development Community (SADC) intervention in the Second Congo War by sending troops to assist Kabila’s government.

Since 2000, Mugabe’s government embarked on a land reform program to correct the inequitable land distribution created by colonial rule. Mugabe's policies have been condemned at home and abroad, receiving harsh criticism from British and US governments which argue that they amount to violent land seizure. Eventually sanctions were imposed by the US and EU against the person of Mugabe, individuals, private companies, parastatals and the government of Zimbabwe. The subsequent  period has seen a marked deterioration in Zimbabwe’s economic situation.

In 2008 his party suffered a defeat in parliamentary elections. However, after disputed presidential elections, Mugabe retained presidential power with the signing of a power-sharing deal with Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of the MDC-T and MDC-M opposition parties respectively.

Some refer to him disparagingly as “Mad Bob” And he has undoubtedly led his country to financial ruin, committed crimes against humanity etc. Unfortunately there are several facts that need to be borne in mind:

o    He was elected, by a majority of voters to the presidency of a sovereign country. Foul you cry – the election was rigged! Agreed, but so were elections in several other countries. However, the South African Government has not fallen for that ploy because, if it were to do so, it would be guilty of the sins it so despises.
o    He makes a valid point regarding land expropriation, as follows: If one steals someone’ property, to whom does it belong after the fact? International law is clear on this point – e.g. property looted by the Germans during WW2 is being returned to its owners.

Zimbabwe was invaded in the 1800’s and farms were occupied by white farmers. So calls for their return to their former owners have a hollow ring. Incidentally such behaviour goes back a long way – e.g. the Highland Clearances in Scotland and the gift of the Cullinan diamond to the Queen. Frankly such behaviour is unacceptable. Might is not always right. RSARM

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Last update: 2014-03-17 02:37
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.4

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