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Robert Gabriel Mugabe

Assumed office 
31 December 1987
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
Vice President Simon Muzenda
Joseph Msika
Joice Mujuru
Preceded by Canaan Banana

In office
18 April 1980 – 31 December 1987
President Canaan Banana
Preceded by Abel Muzorewa (Zimbabwe Rhodesia)
Succeeded by Post abolished Revived 2009: Morgan Tsvangirai

In office
6 September 1986 – 7 September 1989
Preceded by Zail Singh
Succeeded by Janez Drnovsek

Born 21 February 1924 (1924-02-21) (age 86)
Kutama, Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia
Political party ZANU-PF (1987 – present)
ZANU (1963–1987)
ZAPU (1961–1963)
Spouse(s) Sally Hayfron (deceased)
Grace Marufu
Alma mater University of Fort Hare
University of Oxford
University of South Africa
University of London
Religion Roman Catholic

Robert Gabriel Karigamombe Mugabe (born 21 February 1924) is the current President of Zimbabwe. He has held 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.[1] In 2008, his party suffered a defeat in national elections, but Mugabe retained power after his party's violence against opposition supporters caused the opposition candidate to pull out of a subsequent run-off.[2]

Mugabe rose to prominence in the 1960s as the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). For many years in the 1960s and 1970s Mugabe was a political prisoner in Rhodesia. His goal was to replace white minority-rule with a one-party Marxist regime.[3] Having been a political prisoner for 10 years, on release with Edgar Tekere, Mugabe left Rhodesia in 1975 to 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.[4][5] 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), amid reports of violent intimidation by the militants he now controlled. Mugabe then became the first Prime Minister after calling for reconciliation between formerly warring parties, including the white people as well as rival parties.

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.[6]

Since 1998 Mugabe's policies have been condemned at home and abroad . Mugabe's government supported the Southern African Development Community's intervention in the Second Congo War; expropriated thousands of white-owned farms;[7] printed hundreds of trillions of Zimbabwean dollars, causing hyperinflation;[8] and harassed and intimidated such political opponents as the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).[9] The resulting downward spiral in Zimbabwe's economy[10] has been accompanied by oil and food shortages,[11] massive internal displacement[12] and emigration.[13][14] During this period Mugabe's policies have been denounced in the West and at home as racist against Zimbabwe's white minority.[15][16][17] In July 2008, referring to the Mugabe regime, the Group of Eight released a collective statement saying that they "do not accept the legitimacy of a government that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people".[18]

On September 15, 2008, a power-sharing agreement brokered by then-South African President Thabo Mbeki was signed. Under the deal, Mugabe remained President, Morgan Tsvangirai became Prime Minister,[19] the MDC controls the police, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front commands the army, and Arthur Mutambara became Deputy Prime Minister. This deal has remained precarious, with Mugabe's party ceding little actual power and pursuing dubious legal proceedings against MDC members.


Early life

Robert Gabriel Karigamombe Mugabe was born near Kutama Mission in the Zvimba District north east 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, leaving Robert and his younger brother, Donato.[20] His father, Gabriel Matibili, a carpenter,[10] abandoned the Mugabe family in 1934 after Michael died, in search of work in Bulawayo.[21]

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.[10]

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 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[22] The two Law degrees were earned while he was in prison, the Master of Science degree earned during his premiership of Zimbabwe.[23]

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.[24] 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.[25][26]

Early political career

Mugabe returned to Southern Rhodesia and joined the National Democratic Party (NDP) in 1960.[27] 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[28] 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.[10]

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[29] - Mugabe himself abstained from voting. His time in prison burnished his reputation and helped his cause.[10] Following a South African détente initiative, Mugabe was released from prison in November 1974 along with other Nationalist leaders and having initially traveled 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".[30][31][32]

Mugabe unilaterally assumed control of ZANU after the death of Herbert Chitepo on March 18, 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 rumored to have been riddled with bullet holes at the scene of the accident).[10] Additionally, an opposing newspaper's printing press was bombed and its journalists tortured.[10]

Lancaster House Agreement

Prime Minister Mugabe departs Andrews Air Force Base after a state visit to the United States in 1983

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 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, 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

President Robert Mugabe

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, 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.[33] A peace accord was negotiated in 1987.[34] ZAPU merged into the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) on 22 December 1988.[35] 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.[36]


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.[6]

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 destabilizing 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.[6]

According to a report by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe's Fifth Brigade killed about 20,000 people.[6]


During the 1980s Mugabe's policies were largely socialist in orientation. In 1980 and 1981 the Zimbabwean economy showed strong growth due to the end of the Bush War and the lifting of international sanctions. However, from 1982-1989 economic growth averaged just 2.7%. This compared unfavorably with the 6.7% average growth rate that the white minority government maintained from 1966-1972 despite economic sanctions. [37]

The economy continued to stagnate into the 1990s and attempts at market reform were unsuccessful.

Since 2000, GDP has declined by roughly 40% in part due to land reform and hyperinflation (see below).

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".[38]

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".[38] 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.[39] 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".[38]

While Zimbabwe has suffered in many other measures under Mugabe, as a former schoolteacher he has been well-known for his commitment to education.[10] As of 2008, Zimbabwe had a literacy rate of 90%, the highest in Africa.[40] 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".[41]

Prior to its suspension in 2009, the Zimbabwe dollar had suffered from the second-highest hyperinflation rate of any currency in modern times.[42]


A number of people have accused Mugabe of having a 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".[43] Almost thirty years after ending white-minority rule in Zimbabwe, Mugabe accuses the United Kingdom and the United States of promoting white imperialism and regularly accuses opposition figures to his government of being allies of white imperialism.[44][45]

When the United Kingdom once condemned Mugabe's authoritarian policies and alleged racist attitudes as being comparable to those of German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, Mugabe responded with an extremely controversial remark, mocking the UK's claims by saying about himself and his policies that "I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold."[46]

Views on homosexuality

Mugabe has waged a violent campaign against homosexuals, arguing that before colonisation Zimbabweans did not engage in homosexual acts.[47] His first major public condemnation of homosexuality came in 1995 during the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in August 1995.[48] 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!"[49]

In September 1995, Zimbabwe's parliament introduced legislation banning homosexual acts.[48] 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.[50] 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.[51]

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 Rwandan Hutu militiamen based in the Congo.[52]

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.[53][54] 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".[55]

Land reform

When Zimbabwe gained independence, 46.5% of the country's arable land was owned by around 6,000 commercial farmers.[56] Mugabe accepted a "willing buyer, willing seller" plan as part of the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, among other concessions to the white minority.[57] As part of this agreement, land redistribution was blocked for a period of 10 years.[58]

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".[59]

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 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'.[60]

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 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.[61]

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.[62] 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.[63]

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.[64] A third of the population depends on food supplies from the World Food Programme to avoid starvation.[64]

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.[65]

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".[64]

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.[66] 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.[66] 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.[66] 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.[64]

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.[67] These farms were seized forcibly from their previous owners.[68]

Mugabe blames the food shortages on drought.[64] Zimbabwe's state-owned press accused former British Prime Minister Tony Blair of using chemical weapons to incite droughts and famines in Africa.[64]


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 Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in presidential elections in March 2002.[69] 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.[70][71] Many groups, such as the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), assert that the result was rigged.[69]

On 3 July 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 24 June 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.[72]

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.[73]

On 6 February 2007, Mugabe orchestrated a cabinet reshuffle, ousting ministers including five-year veteran finance minister Herbert Murerwa.[74]

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.[75] Mugabe claimed that "Tsvangirai deserved his beating-up by police because he was not allowed to attend a banned rally" on 30 March 2007.[76]

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".[77] These are the charges he has used in the past to describe the leader of the opposition.[citation needed]

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.[78]

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.[79] Both the opposition and his party challenged the results in some constituencies.[80] According to unofficial polling, Zanu-PF took 94 seats, and the main opposition party MDC took 96 seats.[81] 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.[82][83]

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".[84] 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.[84] On an 8 April 2008 meeting, the military plan was given the code name of "CIBD", which stood for: "Coercion. Intimidation. Beating. Displacement."[84]

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".[85]

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.[86]

Mugabe's run-off campaign was managed by Emerson Mnangagwa, a former security chief of the conflict of Gukurahundi.[84] 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".[87] 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.[84]

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.[88] 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.[89]

In addition, at least 100 officials and polling officers of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission were arrested after the first round election.[90][91]

Morgan Tsvangirai initially agreed to a presidential run-off with Robert Mugabe,[92] 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.[93]

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%).[94] 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,[95] the official tally showed that the total vote had increased, from 2,497,265 votes in the first round[96] to 2,514,750 votes in the second round.[94]

Two legal opinions commissioned by the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC)[97] 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.[98] 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.[99]

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.[100]

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 apologized.[101][102][103]

On December 20, 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.[104]

Criticism and opposition

Example of foreign criticism: a demonstration against Mugabe's regime next to the Zimbabwe embassy in London (Summer 2006).

Since 1998 Mugabe's policies have increasingly elicited domestic and international denunciation. They have been denounced as racist against Zimbabwe's white minority[15][16][17] Mugabe has described his critics as "born again colonialists",[105][106] and both he and his supporters claim that Zimbabwe's problems are the legacy of imperialism,[107] aggravated by Western economic meddling. According to The Herald, a Zimbabwean newspaper owned by the government, the U.K. is pursuing a policy of regime change.[101]

Mugabe's critics accuse him of conducting a "reign of terror"[66][108] and being an "extremely poor role model" for the continent, whose "transgressions are unpardonable".[109] 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".[110]

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.[111] "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".[10]

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".[112]

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.[113]

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[114] 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.[115]

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.[116] In 2007, Parade magazine ranked Mugabe the 7th worst dictator in the world.[117]

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".[118]

In response to Mugabe's critics, former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda was quoted blaming not Mugabe for Zimbabwe's troubles, but successive British governments.[119] 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".[4] Similarly, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, responded to his critics by saying that Zimbabwe's problems are the legacy of colonialism.[120]

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.[121]

The Times of London 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.[122]


Robert Mugabe visiting The Vatican City in 2008, while in Rome for a UN Food Conference-a permitted exception from his travel ban.

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.[123][124]

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.[125][126] 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".[127]

Before the ban, one of Mugabe's favorite pastimes was to travel to London.[10] 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.[128] 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.[129]

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.[130][131]


Because Mugabe is one of Africa's longest-lasting leaders, speculation has built over the years as to the future of his country when finally he 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 11 March 2007 crackdown against a religious gathering sponsored by the opposition attracted scrutiny.[132]

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.[133] These reports were later dismissed by a Mugabe spokesman.

The rumours coincided with Operation Murambatsvina (or "Operation 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 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.[134]

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,[135] 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.[136] 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.[137] 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.[138]

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"[139] 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".[140]

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."[141] 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.[142][143][144]

South Africa’s Business Day reported, however, that Mugabe was refusing to sign a deal which would curtail his presidential powers.[145] 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”[146]

On September 15, 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,[19] the MDC will control the police, Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) will command the Army, and Arthur Mutambara becomes deputy prime minister.[147][148]

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 February 11, 2009) and Chris Dhlamini, the opposition’s director of security.[149]

Honours and revocations

In 1994 Mugabe was appointed an honorary Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Bath by Queen Elizabeth II.[150] 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".[151]

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.[152] 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.[153] Similarly, on 12 September 2008, Michigan State University revoked an honorary law degree that it awarded Mugabe in 1990.[154]

Titles and honours of Robert Gabriel Mugabe
Title/Honour Awarding body/person Date of award Reason for award Date of revocation/loss of award Reason for revocation/loss
1 Comrade member of ZANU-PF - - - -
2 General Secretary ZANU-PF (date of appointment) - - -
3 1st Executive President Constitution (date of constitutional amendment) - - -
4 Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Bath Queen Elizabeth II 1994 "significant contributions" to relations between Britain and Zimbabwe[155] 25 June 2008 "The abuse of human rights and abject disregard for the democratic process in Zimbabwe over which President Mugabe has presided"[151]
5 Honorary LLD 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.”[156] 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."[152]
6 Honorary LLD 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."[157] 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.[153]
7 Honorary LLD 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."[158] 12 September 2008 "...a pattern of human rights abuses."[154]
8 Honorary LLD degree Ahmadou Bello University[159] - - - -
9 Honorary LLD degree Morehouse College[159] - - - -
10 Honorary LLD degree University of Zimbabwe[159] - - - -
11 Honorary LLD degree St. Augustine's College[159] - - - -
12 Honorary LLD degree Lomonosov Moscow State University[159] - - - -
13 Honorary LLD degree Solusi University[159] - - - -
14 Honorary D.Litt. degree Africa University[159] - - - -
15 Honorary D Civil Laws degree University of Mauritius[159] - - - -
16 Honorary D.Com. degree University of Fort Hare[159] - - - -
17 Honorary D.Tech. degree National University of Science and Technology[159] - - - -
18 Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger The Hunger Project[159] 1988 Mr. Mugabe's agricultural programs "pointed the way not only for Zimbabwe but for the entire African continent."[160] 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."[161]
19 Honorary Order of Jamaica Government of Jamaica[159] 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.

Personal life

His first wife, Sally Hayfron, died in 1992 from a chronic kidney ailment.[162] 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[163] who was seen as Mugabe's closest friend and advisor, and some critics suggest that Mugabe began to misrule Zimbabwe after her death.[10]

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.[164][165] 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. 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."[166]

Retirement plans

In June 2008, Mugabe and Grace purchased a high-end residential property in Hong Kong (House No 3, JC Castle, 18 Shan Tong Road, Tai Po), in a development owned by Hong Kong tycoon Albert Yeung. The property was purchased for HK$45.24 million (US$5.8m) through an intermediary, South African-born Hsieh Ping-sung, in the name of a local shelf company controlled by the Mugabes.[167][168]

On 13 February 2009, two journalists attempting to take photographs of the house were violently assaulted by the Zimbabwean occupants, two men and a woman. Hong Kong police are investigating.[169]

It is the first known property acquisition by Mugabe in Asia, where he and Grace have extensive financial interests, purchased through associates.

In fiction

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".[170]

See also



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  95. ^ Mugabe likely to be inaugurated on Sunday-sources - accessed 2008-07-01.
  96. ^ [1] - accessed 2008-07-01.
  97. ^ Pull-out irrelevant: Delay nullified run-off - accessed 2008-06-23
  98. ^, Mugabe begins new term as criticism of one-man election mounts
  99. ^ In pictures: Mugabe's inauguration - accessed 2008-07-01.
  100. ^ [2]Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum (ZSF)
  101. ^ a b UK steps up regime change agenda, hunts for suspected assets, The Herald, 16 July 2008
  102. ^ Woman Named Mugabe Unpaid in Bank Mistake Fox News, 15 July 2008
  103. ^ Sam Mugabe Mistaken for Tyrant Namesake, The Sun, 18 July 2008
  104. ^ SAPA-DPA 2008.
  105. ^ Egbuna, Obi (2003-07-31). "Zimbabwe: Who else but Mugabe?". The Black Commentator (51). 
  106. ^ "Mugabe: US must disarm". BBC News. 2007-02-25. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  107. ^ "Colonial history tugs at EU-Africa ties". People's Daily. 2007-12-05. 
  108. ^ The Spectator Dictators' legacies retrieved from on 7 July 2007
  109. ^ Tribune India Commonwealth at crossroads 52 heads failed to look beyond Zimbabwe!. Retrieved 7 July 2007.
  110. ^ National Union of Mineworkers TUC Backs Zimbabwe's Trade Unions. Retrieved 7 July 2007.
  111. ^ Guest, Robert. The Shackled Continent: Africa's Past, Present and Future. Pan Books, 2005
  112. ^ "'Hitler' Mugabe launches revenge terror attacks– Telegraph". 
  113. ^ President Signs Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act 21 December 2001
  114. ^ "Mugabe stripped of degree honour". BBC. 6 June 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2010.  See also: "Mugabe loses Honorary Degree from UMass". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  115. ^ "UMass students aim to revoke honorary degree for Mugabe– The Boston Globe". 
  116. ^ Rainbow Banned From Screening "Anti-Mugabe" Movie, ZimDaily, 23 September 2005
  117. ^ "The World's Worst Dictators– 2007". 
  118. ^ Robert Mugabe 'unlikely to flee Zimbabwe', Daily Telegraph, 4.4.2008
  119. ^ Peter Biles: "Mugabe's hold on Africans." BBC News website, 25 August 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
  120. ^ "Colonial history tugs at EU-Africa ties," People's Daily
  121. ^ Kwanisai Mafa, "Zimbabwe: Imperialism Will Meet Its Death On Election Day", The Herald (Harare), 19 March 2008
  122. ^ "Robert Mugabe's militia burn opponent’s wife alive". The Times. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  123. ^ "Mugabe's wife on EU sanctions list", BBC News, 22 July 2002,, retrieved 28 Sept 09 
  124. ^ "•MUGABE DEFIES EU, FLIES TO ROME". MSNBC. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  125. ^ "MUGABE DEFIES EU, FLIES TO ROME". MSNBC. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  126. ^ Mugabe warns Catholic bishops over politics Reuters. Retrieved 4 July 2007.
  127. ^ "Charles shakes hands with Mugabe at Pope's funeral". Times. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  128. ^ Recent OFAC Actions, US Dept. of Treasury, 23 November 2005 (accessed 02/07/2008)
  129. ^ U.S. Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs, February 2008 (accessed 04/02/2008)
  130. ^ Jun 1, 2008 (2008-06-01). "AFP: Mugabe arrives in Rome for UN food summit". Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  131. ^ Jun 2, 2008 (2008-06-02). "AFP: World at 'alarming juncture' as leaders gather for FAO summit". Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  132. ^ ""Activist held in Zimbabwe crackdown"". 
  133. ^ Zimbabwe denies reports Robert Mugabe is dead, CTV, 7 June 2005.
  134. ^ Zim government in chaos, says secret report IOL.
  135. ^ "Mugabe set to rule until 2010", IRIN, 14 December 2006.
  136. ^ "Mugabe ready for 2008 elections", DPA (IOL), 12 March 2007.
  137. ^ "Zimbabwe's Mugabe to stand in 2008 poll", Reuters (Sydney Morning Herald), 31 March 2007.
  138. ^ "Mugabe to run again for Zanu-PF", BBC News, 13 December 2007.
  139. ^ Quoted in Sapa-dpa. "Bob vows to hold power." IOL. 21 December 2008. [3] . Retrieved December 26, 2008.
  140. ^ BBC News S Africa changes tune on Zimbabwe. Retrieved 4 July 2007.
  141. ^, Deal finally sealed
  142. ^, Zimbabwe deal gives power to Tsvangirai
  143. ^, Zimbabwe rivals reach historic power deal
  144. ^, GNU deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed on
  145. ^, Zimbabwe leaders ‘closing in on deal’
  146. ^, Zimbabwe Rivals Strike a Bargain to Share Power
  147. ^, Power-sharing deal signed in Zimbabwe
  148. ^ www.msnbc.msn, Zimbabwe power-sharing deal signed
  149. ^ "Mugabe Aides Are Said to Use Violence to Gain Amnesty" The New York Times, April 9, 2009 . Retrieved 2009-04-10.
  150. ^ "Mugabe honorary knighthood annulled". 
  151. ^ a b "Foreign and Commonwealth Office Statement".  See also "Queen strips Robert Mugabe of knighthood to mark 'revulsion' at violence". Times Online. Retrieved 2008-06-25.  and "Robert Mugabe to be stripped of knighthood". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-06-25.  and Cowell, Alan. "Queen Strips Mugabe of Knighthood". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  152. ^ a b "Mugabe stripped of degree by Edinburgh". The Times. Retrieved 2007-07-04.  See also: Paul Kelbie (15 July 2007). "Edinburgh University revokes Mugabe degree". Observer. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  153. ^ a b "UMass revokes Mugabe's honorary degree". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  154. ^ a b "Michigan State revokes Mugabe's honorary degree". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  155. ^ Honorary Knighthood awarded for "significant contributions" to Anglo-Zimbabwean relations
  156. ^ Reason for Edinburgh award
  157. ^ Quotation from UMass award programme
  158. ^ Mugabe honoured for his achievements as the president of Zimbabwe and for establishing a strong cooperative effort between MSU and the University of Zimbabwe
  159. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Official Zimbabwean Government biography of Mugabe webpage
  160. ^ New York Times report of award
  161. ^ The Hunger Project deplores Mugabe's policies in 2001
  162. ^ The New York Times, "Obituaries: Sally Mugabe, Zimbabwe President's Wife, 60", 28 January 1992
  163. ^ "FO's fight over Mugabe's wife | Politics | The Guardian". The Guardian<!. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  164. ^ "Where We Have Hope: A Memoir of Zimbabwe By Andrew Meldrum"
  165. ^ The Zimbabwe Times July 28, 2008: "Tekere book exposes Mugabe"
  166. ^ Mugabe's wife on EU sanctions list, BBC, 22 July 2002
  167. ^ "Found: Robert Mugabe’s secret bolthole in the Far East". The Sunday Times. 2009-02-15. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  168. ^ "Journalists in fray at Mugabe's HK property". The Standard. 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  169. ^ Journalists attacked at Hong Kong 'home' of Mugabe, AFP, February 15, 2009.
  170. ^ "Zimbabwe accuses CIA of film plot". BBC news. 5 September 2005. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 


  • Chan, Stephen (2003). Robert Mugabe: A life of power and violence. London: IB Taurus. ISBN 9781860648731. 
  • 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

Political offices
Preceded by
Abel Muzorewa
as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Rhodesia
Prime Minister of Zimbabwe
Post abolished 1987 – 2009
Title next held by
Morgan Tsvangirai
Preceded by
Zail Singh
Secretary General of Non-Aligned Movement
Succeeded by
Janez Drnovšek
Preceded by
Canaan Banana
President of Zimbabwe
1987 – present
Preceded by
Paul Biya
Chairperson of the African Union
Succeeded by
Blaise Compaoré
Burkina Faso
Party political offices
Preceded by
Herbert Chitepo
Leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union
Merged with ZAPU
New political party
ZANU/ZAPU merger
Leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
1987 – present


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe (born 21 February 1924) is the President of Zimbabwe and the leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front) or ZANU-PF. He was previously the Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987 and a commander of nationalist forces in the Second Chimurenga (Rhodesian Bush War) from 1964 to 1979.




  • Africa must revert to what it was before the imperialists divided it. These are artificial divisions which we, in our pan-African concept will seek to remove.
    • "African threat to ban Sir Roy Welensky", The Times, 10 April 1962, p. 10.
    • Speech at a meeting in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, 9 April 1962.
  • It may be necessary to use methods other than constitutional ones.
    • "ZAPU deposes Mr. Nkomo as Leader", The Times, 9 July 1962, p. 9.
    • Remarks to the press, 8 July 1962, concerning the future strategy of ZAPU in achieving majority rule.


  • Our votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we shall have, shall have been the product of the gun. The gun which produces the vote should remain its security officer – its guarantor. The people's votes and the people's guns are always inseparable twins.
    • Martin Meredith, "Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe".
    • Said in 1976 while a leading commander of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army.


  • Stay with us, please remain in this country and constitute a nation based on national unity.
    • BBC News 'On This Day'
    • A plea to the white population of Zimbabwe in a speech at a ZANU-PF rally, 27 January 1980.
  • I wish to assure you that there can never be any return to the state of armed conflict which existed before our commitment to peace and the democratic process of election under the Lancaster House agreement.


  • We are still exchanging blows with the British government. They are using gay gangsters. Each time I pass through London, the gangster regime of Blair `expresses its dismay'.
    • Chimaima Banda, "Gays seeking sexual asylum in South Africa", The Independent, 6 November 1999, p. 18.
    • A reference to an incident on 30 October 1999 when the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell attempted a citizens' arrest on Mugabe during a visit to London.


  • What we hate is not the color of their skins but the evil that emanates from them.
    • Speech at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem, New York (8 September 2000), quoted in Michael Radu, "State of Disaster", National Review, 27 May 2002
  • Of the twelve million hectares that the farmers have, we said we needed about half of that for a start. Even then, you will say of course, "Take all of it!" Even deep down as we stand by our revolutionary principles, we still recognize that there should be some little measure of charity. No? Well, I will take your message back home.
    • Speech at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem, New York (8 September 2000)
  • Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy!
    • "Whites are real enemy, warns Mugabe", Irish Times, 15 December 2000, p. 11.
    • Speech to ZANU-PF congress, Harare, 14 December 2000.
  • The white man is not indigenous to Africa. Africa is for Africans. Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans.
    • ibid.


  • We have fought for our land, we have fought for our sovereignty, small as we are we have won our independence and we are prepared to shed our blood…. So, Blair keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe.
    • Speech at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg (2 September 2002), quoted in John Battersby and Andrew Grice, "Anti-West anger at summit as Mugabe rounds on Blair", The Independent, 3 September 2002, p. 1.


The land is ours.
  • Let Blair and the British government take note and listen. Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans. Our people are overjoyed, the land is ours. We are now the rulers and owners of Zimbabwe.
    • Michael White, Andrew Meldrum, "Commonwealth leaders delay decision on defiant Mugabe", The Guardian, 6 December 2003, p. 2.
    • Speech to ZANU-PF Congress, 5 December 2003.
  • If the choice was made for us, one for us to lose our sovereignty and become a member of the Commonwealth or to remain with our sovereignty and lose membership of the Commonwealth, then I would say, then let the Commonwealth go. What is it to us? Our people are overjoyed, the land is ours. We are now the rulers and owners of Zimbabwe.
    • ibid.
  • The Commonwealth is a mere club, but it has become like an 'Animal Farm' where some members are more equal than others. How can Blair claim to regulate and direct events and still say all of us are equals?
    • Richard Dowden, "Mugabe: Commonwealth is 'Animal Farm'", Independent on Sunday, 7 December 2003.
    • Speech to ZANU-PF Congress, 6 December 2003.


  • We are now being coerced to accept and believe that a new political-cum-religious doctrine has arisen, namely that there is but one political God, George W Bush, and Tony Blair is his prophet.


  • We cannot have a situation where people decide to sit in places not allowed and when police remove them they say no. We can’t have that. That is a revolt to the system. Some are crying that they were beaten. Yes you will be thoroughly beaten. When the police say move you move. If you don’t move, you invite the police to use force.
    • Addressing delegates at the Zimbabwe embassy in Cairo, Egypt, on the arrest, torture and mistreatment of 15 trade union activists in Zimbabwe, 23 September 2006.


  • When they criticise the government when it tries to prevent violence and punish perpetrators of that violence we take the position that they can go hang.
    • Remarks following a meeting with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete (15 March 2007), commenting on a violent clash between members of his party and the opposition MDC
  • Mr Bush, Mr. Blair and now Mr Brown's sense of human rights precludes our people's right to their God-given resources, which in their view must be controlled by their kith and kin. I am termed dictator because I have rejected this supremacist view and frustrated the neo-colonialists.
    • Speech to the United Nations General Assembly (26 September 2007)
  • Let Mr. Bush read history correctly. Let him realise that both personally and in his representative capacity as the current President of the United States, he stands for this "civilisation" which occupied, which colonised, which incarcerated, which killed. He has much to atone for and very little to lecture us on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities.
    • Speech to the United Nations General Assembly (26 September 2007)
  • He imprisons and tortures at Guantanamo. He imprisoned and tortured at Abu Ghraib. He has secret torture chambers in Europe. Yes, he imprisons even here in the United States, with his jails carrying more blacks than his universities can ever enroll. He even suspends the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Take Guantanamo for example; at that concentration camp international law does not apply. The national laws of the people there do not apply. Laws of the United States of America do not apply. Only Bush's law applies. Can the international community accept being lectured by this man on the provisions of the universal declaration of human rights? Definitely not!
    • Speech to the United Nations General Assembly (26 September 2007)
  • Our economy is a hundred times better, than the average African economy. Outside South Africa, what country is [as good as] Zimbabwe? … What is lacking now are goods on the shelves—that is all.
    • Interview with Heidi Holland (December 2007)


  • I will never, never, never, never surrender. Zimbabwe is mine. I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe never for the British. Britain for the British.
    • Speech in Bindura (20 December 2008)


  • President Mugabe is like a lion — when he roars, he leaves some quotable quotes that linger in the mind for a very long time.
    • "Quotable quotes from the President", Sunday Mail (Harare), 17 December 2006.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Robert Gabriel Mugabe

2nd President of Zimbabwe
Assumed office 
31 December 1987
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
Vice President Joseph Msika
Joice Mujuru
Vice PM Arthur Mutambara
Thokozani Khuphe
Preceded by Canaan Banana

1st Prime Minister of Zimbabwe
In office
18 April 1980 – 31 December 1987
President Canaan Banana
Preceded by Abel Muzorewa (Zimbabwe Rhodesia)
Succeeded by Morgan Tsvangirai

Secretary General of Non-Aligned Movement
In office
6 September 1986 – 7 September 1989
Preceded by Zail Singh
Succeeded by Janez Drnovsek

Born 21 February 1924 (1924-02-21) (age 87)
Kutama, Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia
Political party ZANU-PF
Spouse Sally Hayfron (dead)
Grace Marufu
Alma mater University of Fort Hare
University of London
University of South Africa
Religion Roman Catholic
Signature File:Signature of Robert Mugabe

Robert Gabriel Mugabe KCB (born February 21, 1924) has been the President of Zimbabwe since 1987. Before that time, he was Prime Minister of the country. Especially in the last few years, Mr. Mugabe has ruled his country in the style of a dictator.

His first years as leader were prosperous. He introduced land reforms, which were supposed to give the land claimed by white people back to the (original) black owners. This has had a serious impact on how the country is seen from outside. The reforms were done in 1998. In 2001, the United Nations imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe. This was done because human rights abuses came to the attention of the United Nations.

At present, people are unsure how the country can tackle its problems. Also, it is unclear what will happen after Mr. Mugabe dies, as there seems to be a vacuum. A struggle for who is to come after him would begin. The disastrous Socialist economic policies that Mugabe has adopted have produced extreme poverty, widespread suffering 9001% inflation and 80% unemployment.

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