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Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag
Zimbabwe Flag


PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE

President Robert Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe is yet another African leader who played a crucial role in the continent's struggle against colonialism. He is commonly referred to as the "strongman" of Zimbabwe for the tight grip he has kept on that country's leadership ever since he emerged as its Prime Minister in 1980. Mugabe has received quite a negative rap from the Western media, which has characterized him as a brutal dictator who has used all means at his disposal to silence his critics, including assasinations. Though these allegations constitute quite serious crimes, which should be fully investigated, I will leave it to my reader's imagination as to whether Mugabe is indeed the worst President ever to lead an African nation or just a convenient poster boy for an angry Western media, eager to get even with him for his "uncivilized" treatment of white farmers in Zimbabwe. My contention would be that you will be quite hard pressed to find any African who considers the dictatorship allegations levelled at Mugabe's government even remotely unique.

White farmers in Zimbabwe, constitute less than 10% of the population, yet control over 80% of the country's land. There has been a serious clash as to how this inequity needs to be addressed, with many white farmers proposing a government buy-back of their land. Mugabe's government has thrown this proposal out completely, arguing that it would be unthinkable for them to buy back land that was grabbed from their ancestors without any remuneration whatsoever. If the colonialists didnt see it fit at that time to compensate the African land owners when they took their land, why should they get any compensation for it now? This has sparked a very interesting, and often explosive debate around the world, and has yet again brought to the fore the social inequities that continue to plague this world.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born on February 21st 1924, at Katuma Mission in Zvimba, just a few miles off Zimbabwe's(then Southern Rhodesia) capital Harare. He trained as a teacher at Katuma Mission School in Zvimba, and later taught at the school between 1941-43. After several teaching jobs in Southern Rhodesia, he landed a scholarship to study at Fort Hare College in South Africa, the same college Nelson Mandelaand Oliver Tambo attended. After getting his B.A Degree at Fort Hare he came back home and took various teaching jobs until 1955, when he left for Zambia(then Northern Rhodesia) to teach at Chalimbana Teachers Training College. He stayed in Northern Rhodesia until 1958, when he took up a lecturing job at St.Mary's Teachers Training College in Takoradu Ghana. Mugabe came back home in 1960 and ventured into politics proper. His first major political post came the same year when he assumed the post of Secretary of Information and Publicity at the National Democratic Party(NDP).

In 1961, after NDP was banned, Mugabe joined Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), then under Joshua Nkomo. After a fallout with ZAPU's top brass, he led a break away and helped found Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in 1963. The ruling white government imprisoned Mugabe without trial from 1964-74, during which time he furthered his knowledge and acquired several degrees. In 1974 after his release from prison, he fled to Mozambique where he launched a guerrilla movement to fight the white establishment in Southern Rhodesia. He was elected ZANU President in 1977 and in 1979, returned to Zimbabwe. During the 1980 Elections, his ZANU party won by a landslide making him Zimbabwe's Prime Minister. He then formed a national unity government with Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU party in a concilliatory gesture aimed at bringing together the much divided country. As most people will tell you, that is a soft side of Mugabe you can count on not witnessing nowadays.

The much awaited Independence from the British came in April 1980, just shortly after the elections, effectively making Mugabe the primary ruler of Zimbabwe. Mugabe became President of Zimbabwe in 1987, after the post of Prime Minister was abolished. Ever since his ascention to the Presidency, he has maintained quite a tight grip on power, and has dealt ruthlessly with opponents of his regime. He has even attempted unsuccessfully in the recent past to make Zimbabwe a one-party state to further solidify his grip on power. He has been re-elected President thrice, first in 1990, then in 1996, and recently during the very controversial 2002 elections.

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