Robert Mugabe: From folk hero to dictator


By 2017, Robert Mugabe was one of the most controversial heads of state in Africa. First, as the African showpiece politician celebrated, converted later to a brutal dictator. Now he has died at the age of 95 years.

Many Africans saw Robert Mugabe, the radiant leader, brought in 1980, Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain. However, in the course of his tenure, this picture is darkened. Since the late nineties, he was regarded in the West as a brutal dictator that drove his country to Ruin.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe came in 1924, to the world, in a small village South of Salisbury, the capital of the then British colony of southern Rhodesia. His parents were simple farmers, and strictly Catholic. Mugabe visited a number of schools of the Catholic Jesuit order. He was a shy child, separated from most of the people writing biographers. “His only friends are his books,” quoted his brother Donallo in the biography, “Dinner with Mugabe”.

After training as a primary school teacher, Robert Mugabe studied in the then southern Rhodesia, Tanzania, and Ghana. Seven University degrees he acquired in the course of his life – three of them in captivity. In Ghana, he met his first wife Sally. For a long time, she was also his closest friend and political adviser. When he returned in 1960 to southern Rhodesia to Mugabe, the movement for freedom. First of all, he fought against the British colonial power, and later against the white minority government of Ian Smith, which stood for a strict System of racial segregation. In 1964, Mugabe was arrested, and had to for more than ten years in prison.

Captivity, war of independence, and recovery

Not even at the funeral of his son in 1966, he was a part of it. In the eyes of black Zimbabweans Mugabe was the people’s hero.

After he had got in 1975 from the prison, fought Mugabe has successfully for the independence of southern Rhodesia is that. In the first elections in 1980, he was elected Prime Minister. Publicly he preached reconciliation: “I would urge you, whether you are white or black, to forget with me our grim past, forgive each other and to reach out to us in friendship the Hand,” he said after his inauguration.

Robert Mugabe after the successful independence negotiations in London in December 1979

In the years after he introduced free education and basic medical care for low-income people. Economic reforms have brought enormous boom. The life expectancy rose. The British Queen dubbed him a knight, in many Western capitals, Mugabe was a welcome guest. The then Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker, described him as “intelligent, sober-minded politicians, is trying to compensate”.

The political change

While the West celebrated him, got to know the people in Zimbabwe, the other side of the freedom fighter: After he had fallen out with his former ally Joshua Nkomo in 1982, killed by Mugabe’s army, thousands of Nkomo supporters. Three years later, the two stand locked, the adversary a truce. Mugabe appointed Nkomo to his Vice-President.

In 1992, Mugabe’s wife Sally died. From this point on, his private life and his political course in the Public changed. He now lived with his former Secretary Grace, with which he had previously had a year long affair. In 1996, they were married. In contrast to Sally, Grace served as First Lady unpopular. “Gucci Grace” call the Zimbabweans – a reference to her extravagant Shopping trips around the world.

Robert and Grace Mugabe in 2016

While the population had to be with Cholera, food shortages and Inflation, done, lived the President of the couple in Abundance. Alone, Mugabe’s Celebration of the 88. Birthday is around a Million US-Dollar cost. To the 91. let the oldsters in power, several elephant battles, and were served in a luxury hotel of 91 kilos of back work in the Form of the Victoria falls. The Opposition criticized the Party as “obscene”.

The country to the abyss

In the year 2000, the West broke with Mugabe. With his endorsement of former citizens had war veterans previously, the farms of white Zimbabweans stormed and occupied. Although the Whites accounted for only one percent of the population, belonged to them, around 70 percent of the farm land. Mugabe is right, this policy is justified with the need to want the economic balance between white and black farmers to recover. “The white man is not indigenous in Africa. Africa belongs to the Africans! And Zimbabwe belongs to the Zimbabweans!”, of power, said commander-in-chief. Most of the land went to politicians and Mugabe’s friends.

Many farms were soon broke because the new owners had no experience in agriculture. An unprecedented economic crisis was the result. In 2008, the inflation rate was in the range of trillions – a tragic world record. Mugabe made the West, which had imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe, responsible for the crisis.

Due to human rights violations, election fraud and restrictions of the freedom of the press imposed by the United States and Europe finally, a travel ban against Mugabe. Several awards, including two honorary doctorate title, were withdrawn. In Zimbabwe, the time ruler made the always unpopular: in 2008, his party lost the parliamentary elections.

To pressure South Africa’s Mugabe with MDC-the party of his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, had to form a coalition. Which ended, however, with the elections in the year 2013, from which Mugabe emerged with his party as the winner. For the seventh Time, he was sworn in for a five-year term.

The last years of his life

In his last years in power, Mugabe is clinging to his post despite growing pressure to resign. As the successor, he brought his wife Grace in position, so that the highest state would remain in the family. These plans, the military put a stop to, it is up to the President on 14. November 2017 under house arrest and de facto Power in the state took over.

A week later, the 93-year-old President had to resign officially. The new President Mugabe’s decades-long party of a friend of Emmerson Mnangagwa was. He assured Mugabe that the free pre-departure, impunity and a severance payment in the millions. Robert Mugabe, whose state of health was already visible bad, now has died in the night Friday at the age of 95 after a multi-month hospital stay in Singapore.


November 2017: The military takes over Power in Zimbabwe

Obert Gutu, a member of the MDC, withdrew many years ago, a grim conclusion to the government of the now deceased Ex-President: “As we gained in the year 1980, the independence, was an enthusiastic mood. We all believed that we grow as a Nation and successfully would be.” But these hopes have been dashed soon: “We have been witnesses of the establishment of a corrupt, intolerant regime. Unfortunately, the majority of Zimbabweans is poorer today than they were in 1980,” said Gutu. It has also changed a good two years after the abdication of Robert Mugabe’s hardly anything.

Robert Mugabe will probably remain for many as a politician with two faces in your memory: a former freedom fighter who has been transformed into a dictator.