Robert Mugabe Biography

Robert Mugabe Biography on Monsters and Critics


"Robert Gabriel Mugabe" (born on February 21, 1924) is the President of Zimbabwe. He has served as the head of government since 1980, as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987 and as the first executive President since 1987. Mugabe is an outspoken, controversial and polarizing figure. His relationship with the former colonial power, the United Kingdom, has been particularly contentious; he is characterized as a violent dictator in the British press, and he in turn denounces the British establishment as inveterate colonialists. Since the run-off election of 2008 his legitimacy as president has been called into question; the G8 nations released a statement on 8th July branding his regime illegitimate.

He rose to prominence in the 1960s as the Secretary general of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). For many years in the 60s and 70s Mugabe was a political prisoner in Rhodesia. His goal was to replace white minority-rule with a one-party Marxist regime. He left Rhodesia in 1976 to join the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle (Rhodesian Bush War) from bases in Mozambique. The war ended in 1979, emerging from this conflict, Mugabe was hailed by Africans as a hero. He won the general elections of 1980, the first in which the majority black Africans participated, amid reports of violent intimidation by the militant freedom fighters he now controlled. Mugabe then became the first Prime Minister of black-ruled Zimbabwe after calling for reconciliation between formerly warring parties, including the white people as well as rival parties.

The early years of Mugabe's rule saw killings targeting the Ndebele tribe in the Matabeleland and Midlands areas of Zimbabwe. Since 1998 Mugabe's policies have increasingly elicited domestic and international denunciation. His government pursued a costly intervention in the Second Congo War, expropriated thousands of white-owned farms, printed hundreds of trillions of Zimbabwean dollars triggering hyperinflation, and has been accused of harassing and intimidating political opponents, particularly members of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Zimbabwe's economy spiraled downward, with food and oil shortages, and with massive internal displacement and emigration. During this period Mugabe's policies have been denounced in the West and at home as racist against Zimbabwe's white minority.

Mugabe has described his critics as 'born again colonialists',

and both he and his supporters claim Zimbabwe's problems are the legacy of imperialism,

aggravated by Western economic meddling.

Mugabe lost the first round of the 2008 election to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 43% to 48%, though neither candidate secured the 50% necessary to avoid a runoff election. The MDC claimed that the official results had been altered to force a run-off vote, since their returns suggested that Tsvangirai had received 50.3% of the vote.

Early life

Mugabe was born in Matibiri village near Kutama Mission in the Zvimba District northeast of Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia. He had two older brothers, and one of them, Michael, was very popular in the village. Both his older brothers died, leaving Robert and his younger brother, Donato.

His father, Gabriel Mugabe Matibiri, 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 the other children but always 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 and Kenneth Kaunda. He then studied at Oxford University 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 taken whilst he was in prison, whilst the Master of Science degree was taken 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 (1958 - 1960) where he met Sally Hayfron, who later became his first wife. 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 the Kwame 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 became Joshua 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 10 years in Salisbury prison, which helps to explain why his hatred of European hegemony in Africa is so strong. 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 three-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.

Mugabe unilaterally assumed control of ZANU from Mozambique. 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 is rumored to have been found riddled with bullet holes. 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 March 3, 1978 Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Ndabaningi Sithole and 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 and Joshua 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, Edson 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 Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) rivals, whose support came from the Ndebele-speaking south, and with the white minority. Mugabe sought to incorporate ZAPU into his Zimbabwe African National Union (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. A peace accord was negotiated in 1987. ZAPU merged into the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) on December 22, 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.

Mugabe has been the Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe since Parliament passed the University of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill in November 1990.


More than 20,000 Ndebele civilians were killed by Mugabe's North-Korean trained 5th Brigade during the "Gukurahundi" ('the early rain that washes away the chaff?) ethnic massacres.Their leader was Perence Shiri who called himself 'Black Jesus'. Mugabe is said to fear prosecution for this massacre, with bills calling for inquiries into the incident sometimes introduced into Parliament. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has said that if it comes to power, it will call for an international trial of the massacre. Most of the 20,000 killed were innocent civilians.

Social programs

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 enrollment 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 is 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'.

The Zimbabwe dollar suffers from the highest Inflation rate of any currency in the world. Zimbabwe official statistics reveal that the annualised inflation rate for September 2006 was 1000%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its "World Economic Outlook" database, reported inflation in 2006 at 1216%. Inflation reached 9,000% on June 21, 2007, and 11,000% on June 22, 2007. It continues to climb rapidly, and was reported to exceed 100,000% as of April 2008, and estimated to be 4,000,000% in June 2008. It is now estimated to reach 100,000,000 by September 2008.

While Zimbabwe has suffered in many other measures under Mugabe, as a former schoolteacher he has been well-known for his commitment to education. 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'.

Alleged racism

A number of people have accused Mugabe of having racist attitude towards white people. John Sentamu, a Uganda-born Archbishop of York in the United Kingdom, calls Mugabe 'the worst kind of racist dictator,' for having 'targeted the whites for their apparent riches'. Almost thirty years after ending white-minority rule in Zimbabwe, Mugabe accuses the United Kingdom of promoting white imperialism and regularly accuses opposition figures to his government of being allies of white imperialism.

Views on homosexuality

Mugabe has waged a violent campaign against homosexuals, arguing that before colonisation Zimbabweans did not engage in homosexual acts. His first major public condemnation of homosexuality came in 1995 during the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in August 1995. He told the audience that homosexuality:

'...Degrades human dignity. It's unnatural and there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs. If dogs and pigs do not do it, why must human beings? We have our own culture, and we must re-dedicate ourselves to our traditional values that make us human beings... What we are being persuaded to accept is sub-animal behaviour and we will never allow it here. If you see people parading themselves as lesbians and gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police!'

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. Banana's trial proved embarrassing for Mugabe, when Banana's accusers alleged that Mugabe knew about Banana's conduct and had done nothing to stop it.

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 by Rwanda and Uganda, both of which claimed that their civilians, and regional stability, were under constant threat of attack by various terrorist groups 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'.

Land reform

When Zimbabwe gained independence, 46.5% of the country's arable land was owned by around 6,000 commercial farmers. 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'.

Some commentators, such as Matthew Sweet in "The Independent", hold Cecil Rhodes ultimately responsible:

... 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 Capetown, South Africa that 'the native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise. We must adopt a system on 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 February 12 to 13, 2000, a referendum was held on constitutional amendments. 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 April 6, 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 December 8, 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" in Mazowe, 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. Zimbabwe's state-owned press accused former British Prime Minister Tony Blair of using chemical weapons to incite droughts and famines in Africa.


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, the stubborn World War II veteran 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 guerrilla 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 Morgan 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 States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), assert that the result was rigged.

On July 3, 2004, a report adopted by the African Union executive council, which comprises foreign ministers of the 53 member states, criticized the government for the arrest and torture of opposition members of parliament and human rights lawyers, the arrest of journalists, the stifling of freedom of expression and clampdowns on other civil liberties. It was compiled by the AU's African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, which sent a mission to Zimbabwe from June 24 to 28 2002, shortly after the presidential elections. The report was apparently not submitted to the AU's 2003 summit because it had not been translated into French. It was adopted at the next AU summit in 2005.

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 February 6, 2007, Mugabe orchestrated a cabinet reshuffle, ousting ministers including five-year veteran finance minister Herbert Murerwa.

On March 11, 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 March 30 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 and Simba 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 March 29, 2008, together with the parliamentary elections. On April 2, 2008, the Zimbabwe Election Commission confirmed Mugabe and his party, known as ZANU-PF, 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 arresting at least two foreign journalists covering the disputed presidential election, including a correspondent for The New York Times.

On March 30, 2008, Mugabe convened a meeting with his top security officials to discuss his defeat in the elections. According to 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 April 8, 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.

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 June 20, 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 Scouts during the liberation struggle. They alleged that there was a 'predominance' of Selous Scouts in the MDC. The "Sunday Mail" published an article which claims that former Selous Scouts are training MDC youth activists in violent tactics, at locations near Tswane (Pretoria) and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.

In addition, at least 100 officials and polling officers of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have been arrested after the first round election.

Morgan Tsvangirai initially agreed to a presidential run-off with Robert Mugabe, but later withdrew (on June 22, 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 be Morgan Tsvangirai.

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. The British government 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 apologized.

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. The loudest and most persistent criticism of Mugabe comes from the United Kingdom, which, according to "The Herald", a Zimbabwean newspaper owned by the government, 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 "The Daily Telegraph" of London, 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 leveled 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 their Edinburgh University Students' Association student union. 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.

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 characterize 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 eradicate pan-Africanism in order to deny real independence to African countries by imposing client regimes.

The Times of London charged that on June 12, 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.

Bans on travel in the E.U. and the U.S.A.

After observers from the European Union were barred from examining Zimbabwe's 2002 elections, the EU imposed a ban on Mugabe and 94 members of his government. The United States instituted a similar ban. 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 April 8, 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 surprised Prince 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 favourite pastimes was to travel to London.

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 $400 million in humanitarian assistance from 2002-2007, mostly food aid.

Appearance at the FAO conference, June 2008

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.


As one of Africa's longest-lasting leaders, speculation has built over the years as to the future of Zimbabwe after Mugabe leaves office. His age and recurring rumours of failing health have focused more attention on possible successors within his party as well as the opposition. The March 11, 2007 crackdown against a religious gathering sponsored by the opposition attracted scrutiny.

In June 2005, a report that Mugabe had entered a hospital for tests on his heart fueled rumours that he had died of a heart attack; these reports were dismissed by a Mugabe spokesman. This coincided with Operation Murambatsvina (or 'Drive Out Trash'), a police campaign to demolish houses and businesses that had been built without permission on land previously taken from white landholders and intended for redistribution. Opponents called this an attempt to disperse urban centres of dissent into rural areas where the government had more control. Former information minister Jonathan Moyo attributed the events to a power struggle within the party over who would succeed Mugabe.

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 mentioned as a likely successor to Mugabe. Joyce 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. However, this plan was not approved and there were reportedly objections from some in ZANU-PF to the idea. In March 2007 Mugabe said that he thought 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 run. Other leaders in Southern Africa were rumoured to be less warm on the idea of extending his term to 2010; recently, at the 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'.

On March 30, 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 December 13 2007.

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 two 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 degree has been revoked.

Personal life

His first wife, Sally Hayfron, died in 1992 from a chronic kidney ailment. Their only son, Nhamodzenyika, born 27 September 1963, died on December 26, 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 adviser, and some critics suggest that Mugabe began to misrule Zimbabwe after her death.

Mugabe married his former secretary, Grace Marufu, 40 years his junior and with whom he already had two children, on August 17, 1996. Mugabe and Marufu were married in a Roman Catholic wedding Mass at Kutama College, a Catholic mission school he previously attended. Nelson Mandela was among the guests. His wife, Grace, is known sarcastically as 'Gucci Grace' or 'The First Shopper' in reference to her numerous, lavish European shopping sprees.

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. 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 "Daily Telegraph" called her 'notorious at home for her profligacy' in a 2003 coverage of a trip to Paris.

In fiction

The movie "The Interpreter" features 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'.



East, R. and Thomas, Richard J. "Profiles of People in Power: The World ?s Government Leaders", 2003 ISBN 185743126X.

Holland, Heidi. "Dinner with Mugabe", 2008. Penguin, South Africa. ISBN 9780143025573.

Meredith, Martin : "Mugabe: Power and Plunder in Zimbabwe", 2003. Oxford rev. updated ed. ISBN 1586482130 (American ed.: "Our votes, our guns"

Mwakikagile, Godfrey. "Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era", 2006, Chapter Eight: 'The Rhodesian Crisis: Tanzania's Role.' New Africa Press, South Africa. ISBN 9780980253412.

Nolan, Cathal J. "Notable U.S. Ambassadors Since 1775: A Biographical Dictionary", 1997 ISBN 0313291950

The Times (SA) Online. ('The angry little boy who showed them all') . Published: 01 Mar 2008.

Who's Who : African Nationalist Leaders in Rhodesia by Robert Cary and Diana Mitchell, 1977,1980,1994 Reprinted by Mardon Printers (PTY) Ltd, Harare.

External links

('Mugging Mugabe') (a commentary in defence of Mugabe)

('The truth about Mugabe') (an anti-Mugabe commentary)

('Zimbabwe election - a defeat for imperialism')

('Zimbabwe's silent selective starvation')

('Robert Mugabe's War to Crush Press Freedom in Zimbabwe')

(Reporters Without Borders profile on Mugabe)

(Freedom House report on Zimbabwe)

(IFEX Media Coverage Favours Mugabe)

('Robert Mugabe at UMass') from the WGBH series, Ten O'clock News

(Indict Zimbabwe's demagogue before the International Criminal Court)

('Zimbabwe and the Politics of Torture')

(Human Rights Watch on Zimbabwe)

('Comrade Mugabe is our leader?, War Vets million man march for Mugabe) Zimbabwe Metro


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Robert Mugabe.