A retrospective: Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe

Republic of Zimbabwe is a southern country in the continent of Africa. It has approximately 16,000,000 people, and 16 languages, and was previously the state Rhodesia, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and before that it was Colony of Southern Rhodesia, that was a British colony.

Zimbabwe has been home to many civilisations, and archaeological findings date civilisation as far back as 100,000 years ago, and are thought to be Saan people. Saan people were the first known indigenous inhabitants of southern Africa, and used the languages of Khoesaan, which involves clicking. They were a nomadic race that followed the migration of animals so they always had a constant food source. Unfortunately descendants of the Saan people face discrimination in modern day Africa due to their traditions and life styles.

Several kingdoms came and went, and in 1880 it became one of Great Britain’s colonies and was named Southern Rhodesia. Cecil John Rhodes, and his British South Africa Company, went to Africa in search of minerals and wealth. The colonisation put British control over the mining of precious metals and labour, and the Northern part which they called Northern Rhodesia was also under British control, and that has since become Zambia.

The Shona people started several Chimurenga which is essentially a revolution against Rhodes and his paramilitary, and the Matabele fought against the British South Africa Company in what was known as the Second Matabele War, which lasted a year and a half. Many lives were lost on both sides of the conflict, and the aftermath left a lot of the indigenous people without homes.

In 1923 Southern Rhodesia, whilst still a British colony, became self-Governed, and during World War II many inhabitants fought on behalf of Great Britain against Axis forces in Africa.

Robert Mugabe’s early years

Robert Mugabe

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia in 1924. He attended school at a Jesuit mission, and after that studied at the university of Fort Hare in South Africa where he gained a degree to become a teacher. In 1955 he moved to Northern Rhodesia to teach, and to study for his Batchelor of Science degree in economics. He then moved to Ghana where he decided to identify himself as a Marxist.

ZANU

Zimbabwe African National Union was a group that opposed and fought against the white rule in Rhodesia. It was a break away from Zimbabwe African People’s Union that was a socialist political party.

ZANU was formed in 1963 and Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army was their military section, who fought against the Rhodesian government in the Rhodesian Bush War, that lasted 13 years. ZANLA relied on communist states for finance and training.

Robert Mugabe the activist

In 1960 Mugabe returned to Southern Rhodesia and was appalled at the changes his country had undergone. Many black families had been displaced by the government, the white population had escalated, and black rights was practically non-existent.

He joined protestors who were outraged at the arrest of their leaders, and gave a speech explaining to the crowd how through Marxism, Ghana had gained Independence from Great Britain in 1957. They were the first African country to do so.

Mugabe became secretary of NDP (National Democratic Party) but the government, not wanting opposition banned the party, and in its place supporters created the Zimbabwe African People’s Party (ZAPU). By 1961, Mugabe was openly talking in public about starting a guerrilla type revolution, and this is where ZANU was created in Tanzania. On a trip back to Southern Rhodesia, Mugabe was arrested and remained in prison for a decade. Even though he was locked up, he still managed to launch operations in an attempt to free the country from British control, by sending messages through sympathetic black prison guards. During his time in prison he studied and gained a masters, a bachelors and two degrees in law.

Ian Smith

Whilst Mugabe was in prison the prime minister, Ian Smith, outlawed ZANU and ZAPU and arrested as many people as they could who were related to them. In 1972 African Nationalists started an all out war against Smith and his government, and (ZANLA), who was now based in Mozambique, relied on communist states for finance and training. The Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army, who was the military of ZAPU was based in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and was supported by the Soviet Union.

In 1975 he was released from prison, and became the new leader of ZANU, and by 1976 he gained complete support from ZANLU’s previously sceptical commanders. In 1977 his leadership was made official and he was suspicious about many of his commanders who he had arrested and imprisoned. By 1979 ZANLA’s forces had grown substantially, but Mugabe gradually moved away from ZANLA to focus on politics, where he presented himself as a Marxist-Leninist and visited several communist countries.

‘Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy!’ – Robert Mugabe

Mugabe’s aim was to overthrow the white government and transform Rhodesia into a Marxist state. He turned ZANU into a political party and renamed it to Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF). Many people were confident that they’d win the upcoming elections, and this put fear into some, and Mugabe had two failed assassination attempts made against him. ZANU-PF won the election comfortably and in 1980 Mugabe became Prime Minister, and one of the first things he did was rename the country to Zimbabwe. The country was liberated from British control and Mugabe’s reign began.

During his time as Prime Minister one of his key focus points was education, and by the year 2000, Zimbabwe had 1,548 schools.

In 1987 Mugabe declared himself Executive President of Zimbabwe, which involved him being head of state, head of government, and head of the armed forces, which essentially gave him ultimate control of the country.

Robert Mugabe’s crimes against humanity

Mugabe has been identified as one of the most ruthless dictators of modern times, and his crimes are endless, and include genocide, torture, rigging voting, false imprisonment, and murder. Despite most of the crimes being committed by his surrounding henchmen, he gave the orders.

‘I am still the Hitler of the time. 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 Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for’ – Robert Mugabe

In the 1980s Mugabe was desperate to resume his control and many of his political opponents were arrested and executed, some of the executions were televised.

Many white farmers were murdered, houses burned down and land possessed. Often the lands that were fertile were left to die off creating much starvation around the country.

During The Gukurahundi land seizures, between 30,000 and 80,000 Ndebele were executed by Zimbabwe National Army.

Hundreds of university students are murdered when they protest against university fees in 1986.

Many more incidents happened where his regime ruthlessly murdered people because Mugabe didn’t agree with what they said, or what they stood for. As Mugabe got older, his paranoia grew, and any voice of dissidence was met with violence.

All this despite that he professed to be a devout Catholic, and worshippers at Harare’s Catholic Cathedral were swamped by his henchmen when he arrived for Sunday Mass, but Ian Smith described him as being ‘the apostle of Satan

The fall of Robert Mugabe

It’s 2017, November 6th, he removes his Vice President from power, and his government are far from happy. Nine days later he’s placed under house arrest by the Zimbabwe National Army. Four days later, he is removed from ZANU-PF as their leader, and is told that either he resigns or an impeachment will be made against him.

‘Only God, who appointed me, will remove me’ – Robert Mugabe

Two days later after the hearing for his impeachment had begun, Mugabe resigned under the conditions that no criminal proceedings against him took place. He was given full diplomatic status and in his first interview since his resignation he claimed that he’d been part of a ‘coup d’état’ that had to be reversed. Mugabe’s brutal tyranny against his people was finally over.

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