Robert Gabriel Mugabe (Shona pronunciation: [muɡaɓe], English: /mʊˈɡɑːbeɪ/ moo-GAH-bay; born 21 February 1924) is the second and currentPresident of Zimbabwe. One of the leaders of the liberation movement against white-minority rule, he was elected into power as the head of government since 1980, as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987, and as the first 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 against the white-minority rule regime of Ian Smith. Mugabe was a political prisoner in Rhodesia for more than 10 years between 1964 to 1974. Upon release with Edgar Tekere, Mugabe left Rhodesia in 1975 to re-join the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle (Rhodesian Bush War) from bases in Mozambique.
At the end of the war in 1979, Mugabe emerged as a hero in the minds of many Africans. He won the general elections of 1980, the second in which the majority of Black Africans participated in large numbers (though the electoral system in Rhodesia had allowed Black participation based on qualified franchise). Mugabe then became the first Prime Minister after calling for reconciliation between formerly warring parties, including white Rhodesians and rival political groups.
The years following Zimbabwe’s independence saw a split between the two key belligerents who had fought alongside each other during the 1970s against the government of Rhodesia. An armed conflict between Mugabe’s Government and dissident followers of Joshua Nkomo‘s pro-Marxist ZAPU erupted. Following the deaths of thousands, neither warring faction able to defeat the other, the heads of the opposing movements reached a landmark agreement, whence was created a new ruling party, ZANU PF, as a merger between the two former rivals.
Since 2000, the Mugabe-led government embarked on a controversial fast-track land reform program intended to correct the inequitable land distribution created by colonial rule. The period has been marked by the deterioration of the Zimbabwean economic situation. Mugabe’s policies have been condemned in some quarters at home and abroad, especially receiving harsh criticism from the British and American governments arguing they amount to an often violent land seizure. Eventually a wide range of sanctions was imposed by the US government and European Union against the person of Mugabe, individuals, private companies, parastatals and the government of Zimbabwe. In 2008, his party suffered a tight defeat in national parliamentary elections, but after disputed presidential elections, Mugabe retained presidential power with the signing of a power-sharing deal with opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of the MDC-T and MDC-M opposition party.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born near Kutama Mission in the Zvimba District northwest of Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia to a Malawian father Gabriel Matibili and a Shona mother Bona. He had two older brothers, and one of them, Michael, was very popular in the village. Both his older brothers died when he was young, leaving Robert and his younger brother, Donato.His father, Gabriel Matibili, a carpenter, abandoned the Mugabe family in 1934 after Michael died, in search of work in Bulawayo.
Mugabe was raised as a Roman Catholic, studying in Marist Brothers and Jesuit schools, including the exclusive Kutama College, headed by an Irish priest, Father Jerome O’Hea, who took him under his wing. Through his youth, Mugabe was never socially popular nor physically active and spent most of his time with the priests or his mother when he was not reading in the school’s libraries. He was described as never playing with other children but enjoying his own company.
He qualified as a teacher, but left to study at Fort Hare in South Africa graduating in 1951, while meeting contemporaries such as Julius Nyerere, Herbert Chitepo, Robert Sobukwe andKenneth Kaunda. He then studied at the University of Oxford in 1952, Salisbury (1953), Gwelo (1954), and Tanzania (1955–1957). Originally graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Fort Hare in 1951, Mugabe subsequently earned six further degrees through distance learning including a Bachelor of Administration and Bachelor of Education from the University of South Africa and a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Laws, Master of Science, and Master of Laws, all from the University of London External Programme The two Law degrees were earned while he was in prison, the Master of Science degree earned during his premiership of Zimbabwe.
After graduating, Mugabe lectured at Chalimbana Teacher Training College, in Zambia from 1955–1958, thereafter he taught at Apowa Secondary School at Takoradi, in the Western region of Ghana after completing his local certification at Achimota School (1958–1960), where he met Sally Hayfron, whom he married in April 1961. During his stay in Ghana, he was influenced and inspired by Ghana’s then Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah. In addition, Mugabe and some of his Zimbabwe African National Union party cadres received instruction at theKwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute, then at Winneba in southern Ghana.
Early political career
Mugabe returned to Southern Rhodesia and joined the National Democratic Party (NDP) in 1960. The administration of Prime Minister Ian Smith banned the NDP when it later becameJoshua Nkomo‘s Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU). Mugabe left ZAPU in 1963 to join the rival Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) which had been formed in 1963 by the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, Edgar Tekere, Edson Zvobgo, Enos Nkala and lawyer Herbert Chitepo.
ZANU was influenced by the Africanist ideas of the Pan Africanist Congress in South Africa and influenced by Maoism while ZAPU was an ally of the African National Congress and was a supporter of a more orthodox pro-Soviet line on national liberation. Similar divisions can also be seen in the liberation movement in Angola between the MPLA and UNITA. It would have been easy for the party to split along tribal lines between the Ndebele and Mugabe’s own Shona tribe, but cross-tribal representation was maintained by his partners. ZANU leader Sithole nominated Robert Mugabe as his Secretary General.
In 1964 Mugabe was arrested for “subversive speech” and spent the next 11 years in Salisbury prison. During that period he earned three degrees, including a law degree from London and a bachelor of administration from the University of South Africa by correspondence courses. Smith did not allow Mugabe out of prison to attend the funeral of Mugabe’s four-year-old son.
In 1974, while still in prison, Mugabe was elected—with the powerful influence of Edgar Tekere—to take over the reins of ZANU after a no-confidence vote was passed on Ndabaningi Sithole – Mugabe himself abstained from voting. His time in prison burnished his reputation and helped his cause. Following a South African détente initiative, Mugabe was released from prison in November 1974 along with other Nationalist leaders and having initially travelled to Zambia, where he was ignored by Kenneth Kaunda, returned then left once again in April 1975 for Mozambique assisted by a Dominican nun, where he was later placed in temporary protective custody by President Samora Machel. According to Eddie Cross who participated in interviews of the leadership at that time to determine their views on the “longer term future”, Mugabe’s political viewpoint was that “a new ‘progressive’ society could not be constructed on the foundations of the past [and] that they would have to destroy most of what had been built up after 1900 before a new society, based on subsistence and peasant values could be constructed”.
Mugabe unilaterally assumed control of ZANU after the death of Herbert Chitepo on 18 March 1975. Later that year, after squabbling with Ndabaningi Sithole, Mugabe formed a militant ZANU faction, leaving Sithole to lead the moderate Zanu (Ndonga) party. Many opposition leaders mysteriously died during this time (Including one who allegedly died in a car crash, although the car was rumoured to have been riddled with bullet holes at the scene of the accident). Additionally, an opposing newspaper’s printing press was bombed and its journalists tortured.
Lancaster House Agreement
Persuasion from B.J. Vorster, himself under pressure from Henry Kissinger, forced Ian Smith, the sitting prime minister at the time, to accept in principle that white minority rule could not continue indefinitely. On 3 March 1978 Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Ndabaningi Sitholeand other moderate leaders signed an agreement at the Governor’s Lodge in Salisbury, which paved the way for an interim power-sharing government, in preparation for elections. The elections were won by the United African National Council under Bishop Abel Muzorewa, but international recognition did not follow and sanctions were not lifted. The two ‘Patriotic Front’ groups under Mugabe andJoshua Nkomo refused to participate and continued the war.
The incoming government did accept an invitation to talks at Lancaster House in September 1979. A ceasefire was negotiated for the talks, which were attended by Smith, Mugabe, Nkomo, Zvobgo and others. Eventually the parties to the talks agreed on a new constitution for a new Republic of Zimbabwe with elections in February 1980. The Lancaster Agreement saw Mugabe make two important and contentious concessions. First, he allowed 20 seats to be reserved for whites in the new Parliament, and second, he agreed to a ten year moratorium on constitutional amendments. His return to Zimbabwe in December 1979, following the completion of the Lancaster House Agreement, was greeted with enormous supportive crowds.
Prime Minister and President
After a campaign marked by intimidation from all sides, mistrust from security forces and reports of full ballot boxes found on the road, the Shona majority was decisive in electing Mugabe to head the first government as prime minister on 4 March 1980. ZANU won 57 out of 80 Common Roll seats in the new parliament, with the 20 white seats all going to the Rhodesian Front.
Mugabe, whose political support came from his Shona-speaking homeland in the north, attempted to build Zimbabwe on a basis of an uneasy coalition with his ZAPU rivals, whose support came from the Ndebele-speaking south, and with the white minority. Mugabe sought to incorporate ZAPU into his ZANU led government and ZAPU’s military wing into the army. ZAPU’s leader, Joshua Nkomo, was given a series of cabinet positions in Mugabe’s government. However, Mugabe was torn between this objective and pressures to meet the expectations of his own ZANU followers for a faster pace of social change.
In 1983, Mugabe fired Nkomo from his cabinet, triggering bitter fighting between ZAPU supporters in the Ndebele-speaking region of the country and the ruling ZANU. Mugabe accused the Ndebele tribe of plotting to overthrow him after sacking Nkomo. Between 1982 and 1985, the military crushed armed resistance from Ndebele groups in the provinces of Matabeleland and the Midlands, leaving Mugabe’s rule secure. Mugabe has been accused by the BBC’s Panorama programme of committing mass murder during this period of his rule, after the show investigated claims made by political activist Gary Jones that Mugabe had been instrumental in removing him and his family from his farmland. A peace accord was negotiated in 1987. ZAPU merged into the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) on 22 December 1988. Mugabe brought Nkomo into the government once again as a vice-president.
In 1987, the position of Prime Minister was abolished and Mugabe assumed the new office of executive President of Zimbabwe gaining additional powers in the process. He was re-elected in 1990 and 1996, and in 2002 amid claims of widespread vote-rigging and intimidation. Mugabe’s term of office expired at the end of March 2008, but he was re-elected later in 2008 in another election marred by allegations of election fraud and intimidation.
There were major outbreaks of violence between ZIPRA and ZANLA awaiting integration into the National Army. ZAPU was believed to have been planning an armed revolt to make up for ZAPU’s poor showing in the 1980 elections.
Major arms caches were discovered in early 1982, and this caused a final rift between ZANU and ZAPU. Some believe that this was engineered by South African agents. South Africa’s policy of destabilising Zimbabwe by military means, while blaming ZAPU for the actions of South African agents, helped to escalate the breakdown between ZAPU and ZANU in the early 1980s. This in turn led Zimbabwe to retain a state of emergency throughout the 1980s.
According to a report by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe’s Fifth Brigade killed between 3,000 and 3,750 people.
During the 1980s Mugabe’s policies were largely socialist in orientation. In 1980 and 1981 the Zimbabwean economy showed strong growth of the GDP with 10.6% and 12.5%. From 1982-1989 economic growth averaged just 2.7% (1980-1989 average 4.47%). The white minority government maintained (with economic sanctions) from 1966-1972 a 6.7% average growth rate and overall from 1966 till 1979 a 3.8% average growth rate.
Unsuccessful market reform attempts were started in the 1990s and the economy stagnated in this time. Since 2000, GDP has declined by roughly 40% in part due to land reform and hyperinflation (see below).
According to a 1995 World Bank report, after independence, “Zimbabwe gave priority to human resource investments and support for smallholder agriculture,” and as a result, “smallholder agriculture expanded rapidly during the first half of the 1980s and social indicators improved quickly.” From 1980 to 1990 infant mortality decreased from 86 to 49 per 1000 live births, under five mortality was reduced from 128 to 58 per 1000 live births, and immunisation increased from 25% to 80% of the population. Also, “child malnutrition fell from 22% to 12% and life expectancy increased from 56 to 64. By 1990, Zimbabwe had a lower infant mortality rate, higher adult literacy and higher school enrolment rate than average for developing countries”.
In 1991, the government of Zimbabwe, short on hard currency and under international pressure, embarked on an austerity program. The World Bank’s 1995 report explained that such reforms were required because Zimbabwe was unable to absorb into its labour market the many graduates from its impressive education system and that it needed to attract additional foreign investments. The reforms, however, undermined the livelihoods of Zimbabwe’s poor majority; the report noted “large segments of the population, including most smallholder farmers and small scale enterprises, find themselves in a vulnerable position with limited capacity to respond to evolving market opportunities. This is due to their limited access to natural, technical and financial resources, to the contraction of many public services for smallholder agriculture, and to their still nascent links with larger scale enterprises.”
Moreover, these people were forced to live on marginal lands as Zimbabwe’s best lands were reserved for mainly white landlords growing cash crops for export, a sector of the economy favoured by the IMF’s plan. For the poor on the communal lands, “existing levels of production in these areas are now threatened by the environmental fragility of the natural resource base and the unsustainability of existing farming practices”. The International Monetary Fund later suspended aid, saying reforms were “not on track.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), life expectancy at birth for Zimbabwean men has since become 37 years and is 34 years for women, the lowest such figures for any nation. The World Bank’s 1995 report predicted this decline in life expectancy from its 1990 height of 64 years when, commenting on health care system cuts mandated by the IMF structural adjustment programme, it stated that “The decline in resources is creating strains and threatening the sustainability of health sector achievements”.
While Zimbabwe has suffered in many other measures under Mugabe, as a former schoolteacher he has been well-known for his commitment to education. As of 2008, Zimbabwe had a literacy rate of 90%, the highest in Africa. However, Catholic Archbishop of Zimbabwe Pius Ncube decried the educational situation in the country, saying, among other scathing indictments of Mugabe, “We had the best education in Africa and now our schools are closing”.
Views on homosexuality
Mugabe has been uncompromising in his opposition to homosexuality. In September 1995, Zimbabwe’s parliament introduced legislation banning homosexual acts. In 1997, a court found Canaan Banana, Mugabe’s predecessor and the first President of Zimbabwe, guilty of 11 counts of sodomy and indecent assault.
Second Congo War
Mugabe was blamed for Zimbabwe’s participation in the Second Congo War in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At a time when the Zimbabwean economy was struggling, Zimbabwe responded to a call by the Southern African Development Community to help the struggling regime in Kinshasa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had been invaded byRwanda and Uganda, both of which claimed that their civilians, and regional stability, were under constant threat of attack by Rwandan Hutu militiamen based in the Congo.
However, the Congolese government, as well as international commentators, charged that the motive for the invasion was to grab the rich mineral resources of eastern Congo. The war raised accusations of corruption, with officials alleged to be plundering the Congo’s mineral reserves. Mugabe’s defence minister Moven Mahachi said, “Instead of our army in the DRC burdening the treasury for more resources, which are not available, it embarks on viable projects for the sake of generating the necessary revenue”.
When Zimbabwe gained independence, 46.5% of the country’s arable land was owned by around 6,000 commercial farmers and white farmers, who made up less than 1% of the population, owned 70% of the best farming land. Mugabe accepted a “willing buyer, willing seller” plan as part of the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, among other concessions to the white minority. As part of this agreement, land redistribution was blocked for a period of 10 years.
In 1997, the new British government led by Tony Blair unilaterally stopped funding the “willing buyer, willing seller” land reform programme on the basis that the initial £44 million allocated under the Thatcher government was used to purchase land for members of the ruling elite rather than landless peasants. Furthermore, Britain’s ruling Labour Party felt no obligation to continue paying white farmers compensation, or in minister Clare Short‘s words, “I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers”.
… It was Cecil Rhodes who originated the racist ‘land grabs’ to which Zimbabwe’s current miseries can ultimately be traced. It was Rhodes who in 1887 told the House Of Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa that ‘the native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise. We must adopt a system of despotism in our relations with the barbarians of Southern Africa’.
According to Sweet, “In less oratorical moments, he put it even more bluntly: ‘I prefer land to niggers.'”
From 12 to 13 February 2000, a referendum on constitutional amendments was held. The proposed amendments would have limited future presidents to two terms, but as it was not retroactive, Mugabe could have stood for another two terms. It also would have made his government and military officials immune from prosecution for any illegal acts committed while in office. In addition, it allowed the government to confiscate white-owned land for redistribution to black farmers without compensation. The motion failed with 55% of participants against the referendum.
The referendum had a 20% turnout fuelled by an effective SMS campaign. Mugabe declared that he would “abide by the will of the people”. The vote was a surprise to ZANU-PF, and an embarrassment before parliamentary elections due in mid-April. Almost immediately, self-styled “war veterans”, led by Chenjerai ‘Hitler’ Hunzvi, began invading white-owned farms. Those who did not leave voluntarily were often tortured and sometimes killed. One was forced to drink diesel fuel as a form of torture. On 6 April 2000, Parliament pushed through an amendment, taken word for word from the draft constitution that was rejected by voters, allowing the seizure of white-owned farmlands without due reimbursement or payment.
Since these actions, agricultural production has plummeted and the economy is crippled. Once the “bread basket” of southern Africa and a major agricultural exporter, Zimbabwe now depends on food programs and support from outside to feed its population. A third of the population depends on food supplies from the World Food Programme to avoid starvation.
On 8 December 2003, in protest against a further 18 months of suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations (thereby cutting foreign aid to Zimbabwe), Mugabe withdrew his country from the Commonwealth. Mugabe informed the leaders of Jamaica, Nigeria and South Africa of his decision when they telephoned him to discuss the situation. Zimbabwe’s government said the President did not accept the Commonwealth’s position, and was leaving the group.
The United Nations provoked anger when its Food and Agriculture Organisation invited Mugabe to speak at a celebration of its 60th anniversary in Rome. Critics of the move argued that since Mugabe could not feed his own people without the UN’s support, he was an inappropriate speaker for the group, which has a mission statement of “helping to build a world without hunger”.
In 2005, Mugabe ordered a raid conducted on what the government termed “illegal shelters” in Harare, resulting in 10,000 urban poor being left homeless from “Operation Murambatsvina(English: Operation Drive Out the Rubbish).” The authorities themselves had moved the poor inhabitants to the area in 1992, telling them not to build permanent homes and that their new homes were temporary, leading the inhabitants to build their own temporary shelters out of cardboard and wood. Since the inhabitants of the shantytowns overwhelmingly supported the Movement for Democratic Change opposition party in the previous election, many alleged that the mass bulldozing was politically motivated. The UK’s Daily Telegraph noted that Mugabe’s “latest palace,” in the style of a pagoda, was located a mile from the destroyed shelters. The UN released a report stating that the actions of Mugabe resulted in the loss of home or livelihood for more than 700,000 Zimbabweans and negatively affected 2.4 million more.
As of September 2006, Mugabe’s family owns three farms: Highfield Estate in Norton, 45 km west of Harare, Iron Mask Estate in Mazowe, about 40 km from Harare, and Foyle Farm inMazowe, formerly owned by Ian Webster and adjacent to Iron Mask Farm, renamed to Gushungo Farm after Mugabe’s own clan name. These farms were seized forcibly from their previous owners.
Mugabe blames the food shortages on drought and the cumulative effect of sanctions imposed against the country.
In April 1979, 64% of the black citizens of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) lined up at the polls to vote in the first democratic election in the history of that southern African nation. Two-thirds of them supported Abel Muzorewa, a bishop in the United Methodist Church. He was the first black prime minister of a country only 4% white. Muzorewa’s victory put an end to the 14-year political odyssey of outgoing prime minister Ian Smith, who had infamously announced in 1976, “I do not believe in black majority rule—not in a thousand years.”
Less than a year after Muzorewa’s victory, however, in February 1980, another election was held in Zimbabwe. This time, Robert Mugabe, the Marxist who had fought a seven-year guerilla war against Rhodesia’s white-led government, won 64% of the vote, after a campaign marked by widespread intimidation, outright violence, and Mugabe’s threat to continue the civil war if he lost. Mugabe became prime minister and was toasted by the international community and media as a new sort of African leader.
Mugabe has continued to win elections, although frequently these have been criticised by outsiders for violating various electoral procedures.
Mugabe faced Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in presidential elections in March 2002. Mugabe defeated Tsvangirai by 56.2% to 41.9% amid violence and the prevention of large numbers of citizens in urban areas from voting. The conduct of the elections was widely viewed internationally as having been manipulated. Many groups, such as the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, and Tsvangirai’s party, assert that the result was rigged.
Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party won the 2005 parliamentary elections with an increased majority. The elections were said by (again) South African observers to “reflect the free will of the people of Zimbabwe”, despite accusations of widespread fraud from the MDC.
On 11 March 2007, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested and beaten following a prayer meeting in the Harare suburb of Highfields. Another member of the Movement for Democratic Change was killed while other protesters were injured. Mugabe claimed that “Tsvangirai deserved his beating-up by police because he was not allowed to attend a banned rally” on 30 March 2007.
General elections 2008
Mugabe launched his election campaign on his birthday in Beitbridge, a small town on the border with South Africa on 23 February 2008 by denouncing both the opposition MDC andSimba Makoni‘s candidacy. He was quoted in the state media as saying: “Dr Makoni lacked majority support while Mr Tsvangirai was in the presidential race simply to please his Western backers in exchange for money”. These are the charges he has used in the past to describe the leader of the opposition.
In the week Dr. Makoni launched his campaign for the presidency, he accused Mugabe of buying votes from the electorate. This was a few hours after Dumiso Dabengwa had come out and endorsed Dr. Makoni‘s candidature.
First-round defeat and the campaign of violence
The presidential elections were conducted on 29 March 2008, together with the parliamentary elections. On 2 April 2008, the Zimbabwe Election Commission confirmed that Mugabe and his party, known as ZANU-PF, had lost control of Parliament to the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. This was confirmed when the results were released.Both the opposition and his party challenged the results in some constituencies. According to unofficial polling, Zanu-PF took 94 seats, and the main opposition party MDC took 96 seats. On 3 April 2008 Zimbabwean government forces began cracking down on the main opposition party and arrested at least two foreign journalists, who were covering the disputed presidential election, including a correspondent for the New York Times.
On 30 March 2008, Mugabe convened a meeting with his top security officials to discuss his defeat in the elections. According to the Washington Post, he was prepared to concede, but was advised by Zimbabwe’s military chief Gen. Constantine Chiwenga to remain in the race, with the senior military officers “supervising a military-style campaign against the opposition”. The first phase of the plan started a week later, involving the building of 2,000 party compounds across Zimbabwe, to serve as bases for the party militias. On an 8 April 2008 meeting, the military plan was given the code name of “CIBD”, which stood for: “Coercion. Intimidation. Beating. Displacement.”
The official results for the presidential elections would be delayed for five weeks. When British Prime Minister Gordon Brown attempted to intervene into the election controversy, Mugabe dismissed him as “a little tiny dot on this planet”.
When the official results for the presidential elections were finally published by the Zimbabwe election commission on 2 May 2008, they showed that Mr. Mugabe had lost in the first round, getting 1,079,730 votes (43.2%) against 1,195,562 (47.9%) collected by Mr. Tsvangirai. Therefore no candidate secured the final win in the first round, and a presidential run-off will be needed. The opposition called the results “scandalous daylight robbery”, claiming an outright victory in the first round with 50.3% of the votes. However, closer analysis of the opposition MDC’s own figures, as published on the party’s website at time, showed they had secured 49.1% of the vote and not the claimed requiste of +50% to avoid a run-off election.
Mugabe’s run-off campaign was managed by Emerson Mnangagwa, a former security chief of the conflict of Gukurahundi. The Washington Post asserts that the campaign of violence was bringing results to the ruling party, by crushing the opposition party MDC and coercion of its supporters. By 20 June 2008, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights had “recorded 85 deaths in political violence since the first round of voting”. News organizations report that, by the date of the second-round election, more than 80 opposition supporters had been killed, hundreds more were missing, in addition to thousands injured, and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes.
Zimbabwean officials alleged that activists of the MDC, disguised as ZANU-PF members, had perpetrated violence against the population, mimicking the tactics of the Selous Scoutsduring the liberation struggle. They alleged that there was a “predominance” of Selous Scouts in the MDC. The Sunday Mail published an article which claimed that former Selous Scouts were training MDC youth activists in violent tactics, at locations near Tswane (Pretoria) and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.
Tsvangirai initially agreed to a presidential run-off with Robert Mugabe, but later withdrew (on 22 June 2008), citing violence targeted at his campaign. He complained that the elections were pointless, as the outcome would be determined by Mugabe himself.
The outcome of the run-off election
The run-off election was held on 27 June 2008, and Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission released the results two days later. The official results showed that Mugabe had managed to double his votes since the first round, to 2,150,269 votes (85.5%), while his opponent Tsvangirai obtained only 233,000 (9.3%). However Tsvangirai had pulled out previously because of widespread violence from the ZANU-PF’s forces. The violence includes beating, rape and others. Many voted because if they didn’t they could face violence against them. Although witnesses and election monitors had reported a low turnout in many areas of the country, the official tally showed that the total vote had increased, from 2,497,265 votes in the first round to 2,514,750 votes in the second round.
Two legal opinions commissioned by the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) declared the run-off election illegal because it occurred outside the 21 day period within which it had to take place under Zimbabwean law. Under item 3(1)(b) of the Second Schedule of the Electoral Act, if no second election is held within 21 days of the first election, the candidate with the highest number of votes in the first election has been duly elected as President and must be declared as such. According to the figures released by Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission, that would mean that Morgan Tsvangirai is the de jure President.
Mugabe’s inauguration to his sixth presidential term of office was a hastily arranged ceremony, convened barely an hour after the electoral commission declared his victory on 29 June 2008. None of his fellow African heads of state were present at his inauguration; there were only family members, ministers, and security chiefs in the guests’ tent.
The Zimbabwean military, and not President Robert Mugabe, is now running the troubled country, in the opinion of a South Africa-based NGO called the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum (ZSF) – 10 Jul 2008.
The United Kingdom announced a policy of seizing foreign assets belonging to Mugabe. Mugabe replied that he has no foreign assets to seize. HSBC proceeded to seize the bank account of Sam Mugabe, a 23-year old British subject of Zimbabwean origin, no relation to Robert Mugabe. The HSBC bank which carried out the seizure of her account subsequently apologised.
On 20 December, despite increased criticism and pressure to resign, Mugabe averred during ZANU-PF’s tenth annual conference in Bindura, some eighty kilometres north of Harare, that he would brook no such thing.
Criticism and opposition
Since 1998 Mugabe’s policies have increasingly elicited domestic and international denunciation. They have been denounced as racist against Zimbabwe’s white minority Mugabe has described his critics as “born again colonialists”, and both he and his supporters claim that Zimbabwe’s problems are the legacy of imperialism, aggravated by Western economic meddling. According toThe Herald, a Zimbabwean newspaper owned by the government, the U.K. is pursuing a policy of regime change.
Mugabe’s critics accuse him of conducting a “reign of terror” and being an “extremely poor role model” for the continent, whose “transgressions are unpardonable”. In solidarity with the April 2007 general strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), British Trades Union Congress General Secretary Brendan Barber said of Mugabe’s regime: ‘Zimbabwe’s people are suffering from Mugabe’s appalling economic mismanagement, corruption, and brutal repression. They are standing up for their rights, and we must stand with them.” Lela Kogbara, Chair of ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) similarly has said: “As with every oppressive regime women and workers are left bearing the brunt. Please join us as we stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe in their struggle for peace, justice and freedom”.
Robert Guest, the Africa editor for The Economist for seven years, argues that Mugabe is to blame for Zimbabwe’s economic freefall. “In 1980, the average annual income in Zimbabwe was US$950, and a Zimbabwean dollar was worth more than an American one. By 2003, the average income was less than US$400, and the Zimbabwean economy was in freefall. “Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for nearly three decades and has led it, in that time, from impressive success to the most dramatic peacetime collapse of any country since Weimar Germany“.
In The Daily Telegraph, Mugabe was criticised for comparing himself to Hitler. Mugabe was quoted as saying “This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold”.
In recent years, Western governments have condemned Mugabe’s government. On 9 March 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush approved measures for economic sanctions to be levelled against Mugabe and other high-ranking Zimbabwe politicians, freezing their assets and barring Americans from engaging in any transactions or dealings with them. Justifying the move, Bush’s spokesman stated that the President and Congress believe that “the situation in Zimbabwe endangers the southern African region and threatens to undermine efforts to foster good governance and respect for the rule of law throughout the continent.” The bill was known as the Zimbabwe Democracy Act.
In reaction to human rights violations in Zimbabwe, students at universities from which Mugabe has honorary doctorates have sought to get the degrees revoked. So far, the University of Edinburgh and University of Massachusetts have stripped Mugabe of his honorary degree after two years of campaigning from Edinburgh University Students’ Association. In addition, the student body at Michigan State University (ASMSU) unanimously passed a resolution calling for this. The issue is now being considered by the university.
Mugabe’s office forbade the screening of the 2005 movie The Interpreter, claiming that it was propaganda by the CIA and fearing that it could incite hostility towards him. In 2007,Parade magazine ranked Mugabe the 7th worst dictator in the world. The same magazine ranked him worst dictator of the year 2009 two years later. 
An official from Chatham House suggested that Mugabe was unlikely to leave Zimbabwe, but that if he were to leave, he might go to Malaysia, where some believe that he has “stashed much of his wealth”.
In response to Mugabe’s critics, former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda was quoted blaming not Mugabe for Zimbabwe’s troubles, but successive British governments. He wrote in June 2007 that “leaders in the West say Robert Mugabe is a demon, that he has destroyed Zimbabwe and he must be got rid of– but this demonising is made by people who may not understand what Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his fellow freedom fighters went through”. Similarly, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, responded to his critics by saying that Zimbabwe’s problems are the legacy of colonialism.
Mugabe’s supporters characterise him as a true Pan-Africanist and a dedicated anti-imperialist who stands strong against forces of imperialism in Africa. According to Mugabe’s supporters, the Western media are not objectively reporting on Zimbabwe, but are peddling falsehoods. Mugabe’s supporters accuse certain western governments of trying to eradicatepan-Africanism in order to deny real independence to African countries by imposing client regimes.
The Times charged that on 12 June 2008, Mugabe’s Militia murdered Dadirai Chipiro, the wife of Mugabe’s political opponent, Patson Chipiro, by burning her alive with a petrol bomb after severing her hands and feet.
After observers from the European Union were barred from examining Zimbabwe’s 2002 elections, the EU imposed sanctions on Mugabe and 94 members of his government, banning them from travelling to participating countries and freezing any assets held there. The United States instituted similar restrictions. The EU’s ban has a few loopholes, resulting in Mugabe taking a few trips into Europe despite the ban. Mugabe is allowed to travel to UN events within European and American borders.
On 8 April 2005, Mugabe attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II, a move which could be seen as defiance of a European Union travel ban that does not, however, apply to Vatican City. He was granted a transit visa by the Italian authorities, as they are obliged to under the Concordat. However, the Catholic hierarchy in Zimbabwe have been very vocal against his rule and the senior Catholic cleric,Archbishop Pius Ncube is a major critic, even calling for Western governments to help in his overthrow. Mugabe surprisedPrince Charles by shaking his hand during the service. Afterwards, the Prince’s office released a statement saying, “The Prince of Wales was caught by surprise and not in a position to avoid shaking Mr. Mugabe’s hand. The Prince finds the current Zimbabwean regime abhorrent. He has supported the Zimbabwe Defence and Aid Fund which works with those being oppressed by the regime. The Prince also recently met Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, an outspoken critic of the government”.
Before the ban, one of Mugabe’s favorite pastimes was to travel to London. He would take the train from London, Paddington Station, to Wrexham central and walk over the mountains of the Vale Of Clwyd, towards the coastal town of Rhyl. Mugabe has always loved the Welsh countryside, and he walked along this route a number of times between 1984-1992. On his final trip, he was presented with a Countryside Awareness Award, for the money he donated to preserving the paths across the Clwydian Range.
Robert Mugabe and senior members of the Harare government are not allowed to travel to the United States because it is the position of the US government that he has worked to undermine democracy in Zimbabwe and has restricted freedom of the press. Despite strained political relations, the United States remains a leading provider of humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe, providing roughly US$900 million in humanitarian assistance from 2002–2008, mostly food aid.
Because United Nations events are exempt from the travel bans, Mugabe attended the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) summit in Rome. African leaders threatened to boycott the event if Mugabe were blacklisted; when he was not, the United Kingdom refused to send a representative. British and Australian officials denounced the presence of Mugabe.
Because Mugabe is one of Africa’s longest-lasting leaders, speculation has built over the years related to his succession.
In June 2005, a report that Mugabe had entered a hospital for tests on his heart fuelled rumours that he had died of a heart attack. These reports were later dismissed by a Mugabe spokesman.
Joyce Mujuru, recently elevated to vice-president of ZANU-PF during the December 2004 party congress and considerably younger than Joseph Msika, the other vice-president, has been touted as a likely successor to Mugabe. Mujuru’s candidacy for the presidency is strengthened by the backing of her husband, Solomon Mujuru, who is the former head of the Zimbabwean army.
In October 2006, a report prepared by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Economic Development acknowledged the lack of coordination among critical government departments in Zimbabwe and the overall lack of commitment to end the crisis. The report implied that the infighting in Zanu-PF over Mugabe’s successor was also hurting policy formulation and consistency in implementation.
In late 2006, a plan was presented to postpone the next presidential election until 2010, at the same time as the next parliamentary election, thereby extending Mugabe’s term by two years. It was said that holding the two elections together would be a cost-saving measure, but plan was not approved: there were reportedly objections from some in ZANU-PF to the idea.
In March 2007, Mugabe said that he thought that the feeling was in favour of holding the two elections together in 2008 instead of 2010. He also said that he would be willing to run for re-election again if the party wanted him to do so. Other leaders in southern Africa were rumoured to be less warm on the idea of extending his term to 2010.
On 30 March 2007, it was announced that the ZANU-PF central committee had chosen Mugabe as the party’s candidate for another term in 2008, that presidential terms would be shortened to five years, and that the parliamentary election would also be held in 2008. Mugabe was chosen by acclamation as the party’s presidential candidate for 2008 by ZANU-PF delegates at a party conference on 13 December 2007.
At Zanu-PF’s tenth annual conference in Bindura in December 2008, Mugabe spoke of his determination not to follow US president George W. Bush to his “political death” and urged the party to ready itself for new polls. He also took the opportunity once more to cite Britain as the source of Zimbabwe’s woes.
Recently, at independence celebrations in Ghana, South African President Thabo Mbeki was rumoured to have met with Mugabe in private and told him that “he was determined that South Africa’s hosting of the Football World Cup in 2010 should not be disrupted by controversial presidential elections in Zimbabwe”.
SADC-facilitated government power-sharing agreement
On 11 September 2008, at the end of the fourth day of negotiations, South African President and mediator to Zimbabwe, Thabo Mbeki, announced in Harare that Robert Mugabe of Zanu-PF, Professor Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai (both of MDC) finally signed the power-sharing agreement – “memorandum of understanding.” Mbeki stated: “An agreement has been reached on all items on the agenda … all of them [ Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Mutambara] endorsed the document tonight, and signed it. The formal signing will be done on Monday 10am. The document will be released then. The ceremony will be attended by SADC and other African regional and continental leaders. The leaders will spend the next few days constituting the inclusive government to be announced on Monday. The leaders will work very hard to mobilise support for the people to recover. We hope the world will assist so that this political agreement succeeds.” In the signed historic power deal, Mugabe, on 11 September 2008 agreed to surrender day-to-day control of the government and the deal is also expected to result in a de facto amnesty for the military and Zanu-PF party leaders. Opposition sources said “Tsvangirai will become prime minister at the head of a council of ministers, the principal organ of government, drawn from his Movement for Democratic Change and the president’s Zanu-PF party; and Mugabe will remain president and continue to chair a cabinet that will be a largely consultative body, and the real power will lie with Tsvangirai.
South Africa’s Business Day reported, however, that Mugabe was refusing to sign a deal which would curtail his presidential powers. New York Times said Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, announced: “This is an inclusive government. The executive power would be shared by the president, the prime minister and the cabinet. Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara have still not decided how to divide the ministries. But Jendayi E. Frazer, the American assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said: “We don’t know what’s on the table, and it’s hard to rally for an agreement when no one knows the details or even the broad outlines”
On 15 September 2008, the leaders of the 14-member SADC witnessed the signing of the power-sharing agreement, brokered by South African leader Thabo Mbeki. With symbolic handshake and warm smiles at the Rainbow Towers hotel in Harare, Mugabe, Mutambara and Tsvangirai signed the deal to end violent political crisis provides. As provided, Robert Mugabe will be recognised as president, Morgan Tsvangirai will become prime minister, the MDC will control the police, Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) will command the Army, and Arthur Mutambara becomes deputy prime minister.
Violence, however, did not entirely subside with the power-sharing agreement. As the New Your Times reports, Mugabe’s top lieutenants started “trying to force the political opposition into granting them amnesty for their past crimes by abducting, detaining and torturing opposition officials and activists.” Dozens of members of the opposition and human rights activists have been abducted and tortured in the months since October 2008, including Roy Bennett, the opposition’s third-highest ranking official and Tsvangirai’s nominee for deputy agriculture minister (arrested just two days after Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister in 11 February 2009) and Chris Dhlamini, the opposition’s director of security.
Honours and revocations
In 1994 Mugabe was appointed an honorary Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Bath by Queen Elizabeth II. This entitled him to use the postnominal letters GCB, but not to use the title “Sir.” In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee called for the removal of this honour in 2003, and on 25 June 2008, Queen Elizabeth II cancelled and annulled the honorary knighthood after advice from the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom. “This action has been taken as a mark of revulsion at the abuse of human rights and abject disregard for the democratic process in Zimbabwe over which President Mugabe has presided”.
Mugabe holds several honorary degrees and doctorates from international universities, awarded to him in the 1980s; at least three of these have since been revoked. In June 2007, he became the first international figure ever to be stripped of an honorary degree by a British university, when the University of Edinburgh withdrew the degree awarded to him in 1984. On 12 June 2008, the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees voted to revoke the law degree awarded to Mugabe in 1986; this is the first time one of its honorary degrees has been revoked. Similarly, on 12 September 2008, Michigan State University revoked an honorary law degree that it awarded Mugabe in 1990.
|Title/Honour||Awarding body/person||Date of award||Reason for award||Date of revocation/loss of award||Reason for revocation/loss
|2||General Secretary||ZANU-PF||(date of appointment)||–||–||–|
|3||1st Executive President||Constitution||(date of constitutional amendment)||–||–||–|
|4||Knight Grand Cross in theOrder of the Bath||Queen Elizabeth II||1994||“significant contributions” to relations between Britain and Zimbabwe||25 June 2008||“The abuse of human rights and abject disregard for the democratic process in Zimbabwe over which President Mugabe has presided”|
|5||HonoraryLLD degree||University of Edinburgh||1984||“… honoured not only for his extraordinary intellectual discipline and energy but for those qualities of statesmanship which made him one of the great figures of modern Africa.”||June 2007||“The decision was taken after the university set up an academic panel to look at events between 1982 and 1984 in Matabeleland, where 20,000 people are thought to have died. The university has said that it knew nothing of the killings at the time of the award.”|
|6||HonoraryLLD degree||University of Massachusetts||1986||“Your gentle firmness in the face of anger, and your intellectual approach to matters which inflame the emotions of others, are hallmarks of your quiet integrity.” … “We salute you for your enduring and effective translation of a moral ethic into a strong, popular voice for freedom.”||June 2008||“Mugabe’s corrupt, repressive regime” was deemed “antithetical to the values and beliefs of the University of Massachusetts.” It is the first time the board has revoked an honorary degree.|
|7||HonoraryLLD degree||Michigan State University||1990||“… for his achievements as the president of Zimbabwe and for establishing a strong cooperative effort between MSU and the University of Zimbabwe.”||12 September 2008||“…a pattern of human rights abuses.”|
|8||HonoraryLLD degree||Ahmadou Bello University||–||–||–||–|
|9||HonoraryLLD degree||Morehouse College||–||–||–||–|
|10||HonoraryLLD degree||University of Zimbabwe||–||–||–||–|
|11||HonoraryLLD degree||St. Augustine’s College||–||–||–||–|
|12||HonoraryLLD degree||Lomonosov Moscow State University||–||–||–||–|
|13||HonoraryLLD degree||Solusi University||–||–||–||–|
|14||HonoraryD.Litt. degree||Africa University||–||–||–||–|
|15||Honorary D Civil Laws degree||University of Mauritius||–||–||–||–|
|16||HonoraryD.Com.degree||University of Fort Hare||–||–||–||–|
|17||HonoraryD.Tech.degree||National University of Science and Technology||–||–||–||–|
|18||Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger||The Hunger Project||1988||Mr. Mugabe’s agricultural programs “pointed the way not only for Zimbabwe but for the entire African continent.”||8 August 2001||“The Hunger Project wishes to be on the record as deploring policies that have resulted in increased unemployment, poverty and hunger in Zimbabwe. This situation is inconsistent with the spirit of the Africa Prize for Leadership and Zimbabwe’s need to work for the sustainable end of hunger.”|
|19||HonoraryOrder of Jamaica||Government of Jamaica||1996||“in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the fight for liberation and the overthrow of apartheid in Southern Africa, and his distinct leadership in the pursuit of freedom and human development throughout the African continent”||–||Prime Minister Bruce Golding says Jamaica has no plan to strip President Robert Mugabe of the honorary award conferred on him in 1996, despite the ongoing political situation in Zimbabwe.|
His first wife, Sally Hayfron, died in 1992 from a chronic kidney ailment. Their only son, Michael Nhamodzenyika Mugabe, born 27 September 1963, died on 26 December 1966 from cerebral malaria in Ghana where Sally was working while Mugabe was in prison. Sally Mugabe was a trained teacher who asserted her position as an independent political activist and campaigner who was seen as Mugabe’s closest friend and advisor, and some critics suggest that Mugabe began to misrule Zimbabwe after her death.
On 17 August 1996, Mugabe married his former secretary, Grace Marufu, 41 years his junior, with whom he already had two children; she first became pregnant by Mugabe while he was still married to his first wife, Sally, and while Grace was married to another man, Stanley Goreraza, now a diplomat in China. Mugabe and Marufu were married in a Roman Catholic wedding Mass at Kutama College, a Catholic mission school he previously attended. Nelson Mandela and Mugabe’s two children by Grace were among the guests. The Mugabes have three children: Bona, Robert Peter Jr. (although Robert Mugabe’s middle name is Gabriel) and Bellarmine Chatunga.
As First Lady, Grace has been the subject of criticism for her lifestyle. Her sometimes lavish European shopping sprees have led to the nickname “Gucci Grace”. When she was included in the 2002 EU travel sanctions on her husband, one EU parliamentarian was quoted as saying that the ban “will stop Grace Mugabe going on her shopping trips in the face of catastrophic poverty blighting the people of Zimbabwe.”
The movie The Interpreter features a negative portrayal of a fictional African ruler with many parallels to Mugabe. The Mugabe government described the film as “anti-Zimbabwean” and a “CIA-campaign against Robert Mugabe”.