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Robert Gabriel Mugabe, honorary KCB (born February 21, 1924) is a Zimbabwean politician. He has been the head of government in Zimbabwe since 1980, first as Prime Minister and later as first executive President.

Early life	

Mugabe was raised at Kutama Mission, Zvimba District, north-west of Harare (then called Salisbury), in then Southern Rhodesia. He was raised as a Roman Catholic and was educated in Jesuit schools. He qualified as a teacher at age 17, but left to study for a B.A. in English and history at Fort Hare University in South Africa, a notable university at the time, graduating in 1951 while meeting contemporaries such as Julius Nyerere, Herbert Chitepo, Robert Sobukwe and Kenneth Kaunda. He then studied at Driefontein in 1952, Salisbury (1953), Gwelo (1954), in Tanzania (1955 - 1957). He obtained a diploma and a bachelor's degree in education from the University of South Africa and another degree in economics from the University of London, all by correspondence. Mugabe holds several honorary degrees and Doctrates from various international Universities, although many of them are in the process of being rescinded. Subsequently, Mugabe taught at Achimota College (now Achimota Secondary School) in Accra, Ghana (1958–1960) where he met Sally Hayfron, who later became his first wife. [edit]

Anti-colonial conflict

See also: History of Zimbabwe
Returning to Southern Rhodesia in 1960 as a committed Marxist, Mugabe joined Joshua Nkomo and the National Democratic Party (NDP), which later became the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU), both immediately banned by Ian Smith's government. He left ZAPU in 1963 to join the rival Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) which had been formed in 1963 by the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, Edison Zvobgo, Enos Nkala and lawyer Herbert Chitepo. It would have been easy for the party to split along tribal lines between the Ndebele tribe and that of Mugabe himself, the Shona tribe, but cross-tribal representation was maintained by his partners. ZANU leader Sithole nominated Mugabe as his Secretary General.

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.
He was detained with other nationalist leaders Joshua Nkomo and Edson Zvobgo, in 1964, and remained in prison for ten years, where he studied law. On his release, he left Rhodesia for Mozambique in 1974 and led the Chinese-financed military ZANU army, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), in the war against Ian Smith's government.
On 18 March 1975, Chitepo was killed by a bomb placed in his car while in Zambia. ZANLA commander Josiah Tongogara was subsequently blamed by Kenneth Kaunda's government. 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, which renounced violent struggle. [edit]

Government of Zimbabwe

See also: Lancaster House Agreement
Persuasion from B.J. Vorster, himself under pressure from Henry Kissinger, forced Smith 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 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. Mugabe had to concede to accepting 20 seats reserved for whites in the new Parliament and to the inability of the new government to alter the constitution for ten years. His return to Zimbabwe in December 1979 was greeted with enormous supportive crowds. [edit]

Prime Minister

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 March 4, 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; and 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.

An abortive ZAPU rebellion and discontent in Matabeleland spelled the end to this uneasy coalition. In 1983 Mugabe dismissed Nkomo from his cabinet, which triggered bitter fighting between ZAPU supporters in the Ndebele-speaking region of the country and the ruling ZANU. Between 1982 and 1985, the military brutally crushed armed resistance from Ndebele groups in the provinces of Matabeleland and the Midlands, leaving Mugabe's rule secure (see "Gukurahundi"). Mugabe has been accused of committing mass murder during this period of his rule[1], with the UK Government turning a blind eye. A peace accord was negotiated in 1987, resulting in ZAPU's merger (1988) into the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). Mugabe brought Nkomo into the government once again as a vice-president. [edit]

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, amid claims of widespread vote-rigging and intimidation, in 2002. Today, he operates with dictatorial powers, and has stated that he intends to govern until he is one hundred years old. He is the Chancellor of the flagship University of Zimbabwe and all the other state universities. [edit]

Social programmes

Mugabe improved health and education for the black majority after elections agreed to after the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979. In 1991, amid international pressure and short on hard currency, Zimbabwe embarked on a neoliberal austerity program, but the International Monetary Fund suspended aid, claiming that the reforms were "not on track".
At the same time he pursued a "moral campaign" against homosexuals (he often calls homosexuals as "lesser than pigs and dogs" and calls homosexuality a "white disease"), making what he deemed "unnatural sex acts" illegal with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. This included the arrest of his predecessor as President of Zimbabwe, Canaan Banana, who was convicted of gay sex offences.

Mugabe was criticized for Zimbabwe's poorly justified participation in the Second Congo War in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at a time when the Zimbabwean economy was struggling. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had been invaded by Rwanda that sought to institute a change of government, and Uganda that claimed that its civilians, and regional stability, were under constant threat of attack by various Congo-based terrorist groups [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. The war raised accusations of corruption, with officials alleged to be plundering the Congo's mineral reserves.

During Mugabe's rule, social policies enacted by the regime can be seen to have had a negative impact upon the populace. According to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), Zimbabweans have the shortest life expectancy worldwide, listed as 37 years for men, and 34 years for women. Also of note is that inflation has escalated to the point where it is now the highest rate in the world. The exact rate is unknown, however, As of late May 2006, Imara Asset Management Group has estimated year-on-year inflation is approaching 2,000%. One example of a large price rise occurred on April 24th 2006, when public hospital fees rose by more than 2,700% [6]. [edit]

Land reforms

Main article: Land reform in Zimbabwe
When Mugabe became prime minister, approximately 70% of the country's arable land was owned by approximately 4,000 descendants of white settlers. However, he reassured white landowners that they had nothing to fear from black majority rule. 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 locked up for a period of 10 years. In order not to hamper the South African ANC in its negotiations with the Apartheid regime, Land Reform remained an issue on the backburner until the ANC came to power in 1994. [7]

By 1997, the "willing buyer, willing seller" land reform program had broken down after the new British government led by Tony Blair unilaterally decided to stop funding it. With the Labour party gaining power and old imperial values being set aside, members of his government felt themselves under 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." [8]

During the early to mid-1990s, Zimbabwe refrained from a more aggressive land reform policy, to give the ANC in South Africa a breathing space in its negotiations for an end to White minority rule. Within that context, it is clear that the Zimbabwean government decided to move forward unilaterally with land reform outside of the "willing buyer, willing seller" framework.
As of September 2006, Mugabe's family owns three farms - Highfield Estate in Norton, 45km west of Harare, Iron Mask Estate in Mazowe, about 40km 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. [9] [edit]

2000 referendum

On February 11, 2000, a referendum was held on a new constitution. The proposed change 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. It was defeated, after a low 20% turnout, by a strong urban vote, 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. 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. [edit]


Mugabe faced Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in presidential elections in March 2002. Amid accusations of violence and claims that large numbers of citizens in anti-Mugabe strongholds were prevented from voting, Mugabe defeated Tsvangirai by 56% to 42%. Mugabe was helped by an unprecedented turnout of 90% in his rural stronghold of Mashonaland (55% of the population voted overall), although there are credible claims that the turnout may have been rigged. When election observers from South Africa claimed at a press conference that they had found no evidence of vote rigging, the assembled press burst out with laughter.

On July 3, 2004, a report [10] adopted by the African Union executive council, which comprises foreign ministers of the 53 member states, criticised the government for the arrests and torture of opposition members of parliament and human rights lawyers, the arrests 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 28th 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 Zimbabwe parliamentary elections with an increased majority. The elections were said to "reflect the free will of the people of Zimbabwe" by the South African observers, despite accusations of widespread fraud from the MDC. [edit]

International opposition to Mugabe

Although President Mugabe encounters considerable opposition from the West, he has some supporters in the developing world. One of them, Venezuela President Hugo Chávez, is shown during the 60th anniversary celebrations of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome 2005. At the event, both Mugabe and Chávez criticised the United States and other countries.

In recent years, Mugabe has emerged as one of Africa's most controversial leaders. His critics accuse him of being a 'corrupt dictator', and an 'extremely poor role model' for the continent. Nevertheless, Mugabe retains considerable popularity throughout Africa. For example, in 2004 the monthly magazine New African had its readers vote for the "100 greatest Africans" last year, Mugabe won a third-place finish, topped only by Nelson Mandela and Ghanaian independence hero Kwame Nkrumah. In addition, in December 2005, Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia's former long-time leader, voiced support for Mugabe, stating that the Zimbabwean president "would pull through because he enjoyed the support of ordinary Zimbabweans who were punished for claiming back their land." [2] Mugabe's supporters tend to dismiss much of the criticism as being racially motivated, and characterize it as being little more than the bitter remarks of those who have been disadvantaged by his policies.

Since Mugabe began to redistribute white-owned landholdings, he has faced harsh attacks, externally from mostly Western countries including the former colonial power of the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, and internally from trade-unions and urban Zimbabweans, who overwhelmingly support the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. In addition, some African figures have condemned Mugabe, such as Archbishop Pius Ncube, the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who called Mugabe a "caricature of an African dictator"), and writer Wole Soyinka (who called Mugabe's regime "a disgrace to the continent" [11]), while Botswana President Festus Mogae distanced himself from the SADC statement opposing the Commonwealth suspension. Mugabe has been condemned by Western non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International, charging that he has committed human rights abuses against minority Ndebeles, the opposition MDC, white landowners, and homosexuals. Mugabe and a list of members of his government are now banned from entering the European Union.

On March 9 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush approved measures for economic sanctions to be leveled against Mugabe and numerous 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 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" and was deemed "racist" by Mugabe.

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. According to reports, Robert 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.
Many African nations, led by South Africa, want Zimbabwe to be brought back into the fold to encourage dialogue between Mugabe and domestic foes, while members of what many Africans charge is the "white Commonwealth" – the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand – led the hard-line stance on the suspension of Zimbabwe.

Pius Ncube, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, leads a consortium of Christian faiths opposed to Mugabe. Ncube has won human rights awards for opposing the alleged torture and starvation used as a political weapon by the Mugabe government. In 2005, Ncube has called for a "popular mass uprising" in the style of the Orange Revolution or Tulip Revolution to remove Mugabe from power.

On April 8, 2005, Mugabe defied a European Union travel ban that does not apply to Vatican City by attending the Funeral of Pope John Paul II. He was granted a transit visa by the Italian authorities, as they are obliged to under the Concordat.
Twice, Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group OutRage! has tried to place Mugabe under citizen's arrest for human rights abuses during the leader's visits to the United Kingdom.

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, student bodies at Michigan State University (ASMSU) and the University of Edinburgh (EUSA) have each unanimously passed resolutions calling for this. The issue is now being considered by the respective universities.

In June 2005, Mugabe and his government attracted unprecedented international criticism, including greater church condemnation than ever before, when over two hundred thousand people from urban areas were left homeless due to their homes being bulldozed as part of Operation Murambatsvina. [edit]


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 rumors of failing health have focused more attention on possible successors within his party as well as the opposition.
In June 2005, a report that Mugabe had entered a hospital for tests on his heart fueled rumors that he had died of a heart attack; [12] 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 centers 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 her husband Solomon Mujuru's backing who is the former head of the Zimbabwean army.


His well-respected Ghanaian first wife, the former Sally Hayfron (1933-1992), died from a chronic kidney ailment (their only son died at age 4, while Mugabe was in prison). Sally Mugabe was a trained teacher who asserted her position as an independent political activist and campaigner. This she clearly demonstrated from as early as 1962 when she was active in mobilising African women to challenge Ian Smith's Rhodesian constitution which resulted in her own imprisonment. When she became Zimbabwe's first lady in 1980, she served as Deputy Secretary and later as Secretary of the ZANU Women's League. She also founded the Zimbabwe Child Survival Movement. Sally Mugabe launched the Zimbabwe Women's Cooperative in the UK in 1986 and supported Akina Mama wa Africa, a London-based African women's organisation focusing on development and women's issues in Africa and the UK. Upon her death she was laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, Zimbabwe.

About two years before Sally's death, Mugabe had married his former secretary, Grace Marufu, 40 years his junior and with whom he already had two children, in a tribal ceremony. Abandoning his previous claim of a Christian background, Mugabe justified the marriage under a traditional African law which allows him to take a junior wife.

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. A spokesman for Catholic Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa, who presided over the ceremony, said the diocese saw "no impediment" to the nuptials.

Grace Marufu Mugabe has three children: Bona, Robert Peter Jr. [although Robert Mugabe's middle name is believed to be Gabriel] and Bellarmine Chatunga. As first lady, she has been the subject of much 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." [13] The London Telegraph called her "notorious at home for her profligacy" in 2003 coverage of a trip to Paris. [14] [edit]


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. [15] [edit]


Ian Smith – leader of White minority government of Rhodesia
Rev Ndabaningi Sithole – ZANU founder with Mugabe and Chitepo
Herbert Chitepo – torch-bearer for ZANU while Mugabe was interned
Josiah Tongogara – Zanla military general for Mugabe's ZANU political wing. Robert Mugabe ordered his death having become jealous of the fact he was the most respected politician in the ZANU PF camp.
Canaan Banana – President in Mugabe's first government
Joshua Nkomo – Leader of ZAPU, often rivals
Bishop Abel Muzorewa – Leader of government before Mugabe
Kenneth Kaunda – Zambian leader who supported African nationalists
Edgar Tekere – one-time colleague who opposed Mugabe in the 1990 Presidential election
Morgan Tsvangirai – Leader of the current opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
Samora Machel – Leader of FRELIMO; political friend and influence


Unilateral Declaration of Independence – Ian Smith's break away from Britain
Lancaster House Agreement – paved the way for elections that brought Mugabe into power
Gukurahundi – War between Mugabe's Fifth Brigade and the Ndebele people of Matabeleland after the failed merger between ZANU and ZAPU political parties.
Operation Murambatsvina (or Operation "Drive Out Trash"), a controversial 2005 government campaign to forcibly clear many slum areas across the country


Politics of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) – founded by Nkomo, mostly Ndebele, often rivals to ZANU

Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) – founded by Sithole, Chitepo and Mugabe, mostly Shona
Patriotic Front – Umbrella group formed by Nkomo and Mugabe as rebel representation at the Lancaster House Agreement
Zanu-PF – party merged from ZANU and ZAPU after Nkomo's fall from grace
Movement for Democratic Change – current opposition led by Tsvangirai [edit]

Credit: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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