You may know his name from the news, but you may not know that much about Robert Mugabe. You may already know that he is the president of Zimbabwe and that he is seen as a dictator, but let me tell you in a bit more depth about this man and what he has done.
Before independence, Zimbabwe was called Rhodesia. It was called Rhodesia because it was founded by Cecil Rhodes. The prime minister at the time was a white man called Ian Smith.
Who is Mugabe?
Robert Mugabe first became known when he became Secretary General of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in 1960. Now, as ZANU was a terrorist group, Mugabe was captured and held as a political prisoner for 10 years. When he got out he went to join the Rhodesian bush war with ZANU again, fighting against Ian Smith’s government. When the leader of ZANU died Mugabe became the leader of the party. The terrorists would attack, beat and torture innocent people, mainly black people who worked for whites. They may have done nothing wrong other than earn an honest living, yet they would have ears, noses, or limbs cut off. One man had his ear cut off and his wife was forced to eat it, this is the shocking level of brutality Mugabe seems to be used to.
Mugabe takes power
When Independence came to Rhodesia in 1980 ZANU PF won the election. With Mugabe now as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe you might think that things went downhill from there. However, this was not the case. Zimbabwe’s literacy rate rose to 90%, the highest in Africa. Apart from a few issues such as the massacre of the Ndebele, the minority tribe in Rhodesia, Mugabe did not cause much trouble that might attract attention from the rest of the world. One problem was, however, that corruption in the high levels of government was revealed. This caused many of the people living in the towns and cities of Zimbabwe to severely doubt Mugabe.
Why is he still there?
According to the constitution of Zimbabwe (the law) an election had to be held every 4 years. It also said that no one leader could rule for longer than 2 terms. So when Mugabe realized that he might not win the next election, he panicked. But being a fairly educated man, (he does have a masters degree in law), he changed the constitution meaning that he could stay in interminably!
Since then Mugabe has stayed in power by rigging elections, bribing the opposition leaders to stand down, and terrorising and torturing people to vote for him. An example of this is that in the most recent election, the opposition leader had a car crash with a lorry, killing his wife, but he escaped with his life. An innocent accident, you may say, but a witness of the crash was arrested and locked away...
As you may have seen in the news, Mugabe has been evicting white farmers from their farms in Zimbabwe. He says that the many poor blacks need the land, which whites are using for their own gain. Fair enough, but Mugabe isn’t giving the farms to the poor blacks that need it. He is giving the farms to government ministers, army officials, chiefs of police and anyone else whose loyalty he needs. The main problem with this, other than that it is just pure corruption, is that these people do not farm the land, they just harvest the crop, sell it, sell the tractors, sell the pumps, sell the pipes, sell everything in the farmer's house, sell anything that can be sold. This leaves the farms destroyed, thousands of tons of food per year lost, hundreds of thousands of black workers (who had had a stable job with accomodation) without a job, no way to feed their families so they just starve to death. So while he claims that he is taking white owned farms and giving it to the blacks for food, more blacks are now starving because of it.
Another thing you have probably heard on the news is that Zimbabwe’s economy is in a very bad state. What you might not have grasped is how bad it actually is. There has been more than 2.2 million % inflation at the start of 2008. That means that buying 3 eggs, this could cost you 100 billion Zim dollars.
This inflation has been caused by Mugabe’s government printing money. Mugabe and his administration had already squandered all the rest of the country’s money on fancy houses and Mercedes Benz cars. So they just started printing more bills.
This has caused many problems, for example, to pay someone’s wages you would have to give them enough notes to fill a few wheel barrows or give them a few shoe-boxes worth of ridiculously large digit notes, and even when the employee got the money to the shop it would be worth much less than it had when he had received it. This meant that commerce was no longer feasible; shops were shutting as the money paid wasn’t worth the goods.
Luckily, at least, Zimbabweans are now dealing in foreign currency, which the Zimbabwe government cannot print, so trade is now possible and a recovery is starting, but Mugabe is still in power; and unfortunately there does not seem to be an end in sight.
I hope that this very short article gives you an insight into the horror of what Mugabe and his goons have done and are continuing to do, unfortunately most of the stories don't get out as Mugabe's Secret Police, the CIO, arrest and torture anyone who speaks out against the government and often their families as well.