Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe
A photograph of Robert Mugabe
2nd President of Zimbabwe
In office
31 December 1987 – 21 November 2017
Prime MinisterMorgan Tsvangirai (2009–2013)
First Vice President
Second Vice President
Preceded byCanaan Banana
Succeeded byEmmerson Mnangagwa
1st Prime Minister of Zimbabwe
In office
18 April 1980 – 31 December 1987
PresidentCanaan Banana
DeputySimon Muzenda
Preceded byAbel Muzorewa (Zimbabwe Rhodesia)
Succeeded byMorgan Tsvangirai (2009)
Leader and First Secretary of ZANU–PF
Zimbabwe African National Union (1975–1987)
In office
18 March 1975 – 19 November 2017
Chairman
Second Secretary
Preceded byHerbert Chitepo
Succeeded byEmmerson Mnangagwa
13th Chairperson of the African Union
In office
30 January 2015 – 30 January 2016
LeaderNkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Preceded byMohamed Ould Abdel Aziz
Succeeded byIdriss Déby
10th Secretary General of the
Non-Aligned Movement
In office
6 September 1986 – 7 September 1989
DeputyJanez Drnovšek
Preceded byZail Singh
Succeeded byJanez Drnovšek
Personal details
BornRobert Gabriel Mugabe
(1924-02-21) 21 February 1924 (age 94)
Kutama, Southern Rhodesia
Political partyNational Democratic Party (1960–1961)
Zimbabwe African People's Union (1961–1963)
Zimbabwe African National Union (1963–1987)
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (1987–2017)
Spouse(s)
Sally Hayfron
(m. 1961; her death 1992)

Grace Marufu (m. 1996)
Children4, including Bona
Alma materUniversity of Fort Hare
University of South Africa
University of London International Programmes
Signature

Robert Gabriel Mugabe (i/;[1] Shona: [muɡaɓe]; born 21 February 1924) is a Zimbabwean politician and ex revolutionary who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017. He chaired the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) group from 1975 to 1980 and led its successor political party, the ZANU – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF), from 1980 to 2017. Ideologically an African nationalist, during the 1970s and 1980s he identified as a Marxist–Leninist, although after the 1990s self-identified only as a socialist. His policies have been described as Mugabeism.

Mugabe was born to a poor Shona family in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia. Following an education at Kutama College and the University of Fort Hare, he worked as a school teacher in Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Ghana. Angered that Southern Rhodesia was a British colony governed by a white minority, Mugabe embraced Marxism and joined African nationalist protests calling for an independent black-led state. After making anti-government comments, he was convicted of sedition and imprisoned between 1964 and 1974. On release, he fled to Mozambique, established his leadership of ZANU and oversaw ZANU's role in the Rhodesian Bush War, fighting Ian Smith's predominantly white government. He reluctantly took part in the peace negotiations brokered by the United Kingdom that resulted in the Lancaster House Agreement. The agreement dismantled white minority rule and resulted in the 1980 general election, at which Mugabe led ZANU-PF to victory. Mugabe's administration expanded healthcare and education and—despite his Marxist rhetoric and professed desire for a socialist society—adhered largely to mainstream, conservative economic policies.

Mugabe's initial calls for racial reconciliation failed to stem deteriorating race relations and growing white flight. Relations with Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) also declined, with Mugabe's government crushing ZAPU-linked opposition in Matabeleland during the Gukurahundi between 1982 and 1985; at least 10,000 people, mostly Ndebele civilians, were killed by Mugabe's Fifth Brigade. Internationally, he sent troops into the Second Congo War and chaired the Non-Aligned Movement (1986–89), the Organisation of African Unity (1997–98) and the African Union (2015–16). Pursuing decolonisation, Mugabe's government emphasised the redistribution of land controlled by white farmers to landless blacks, initially on a "willing seller-willing buyer" basis. Frustrated at the slow rate of redistribution, from 2000 Mugabe encouraged the violent seizure of white-owned land. Food production was severely impacted, leading to famine, drastic economic decline and international sanctions. Opposition to Mugabe grew, although he was re-elected in 2002, 2008 and 2013 through campaigns dominated by violence, electoral fraud and nationalistic appeals to his rural Shona voter base. Following a 2017 coup, Mugabe resigned the presidency.

Having dominated Zimbabwe's politics for nearly four decades, Mugabe has been a controversial and divisive figure. He has been praised as a revolutionary hero of the African liberation struggle who helped to free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism and white minority rule. Conversely, he has been accused of being a dictator responsible for economic mismanagement, widespread corruption, anti-white racism, human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.

Early life

Childhood: 1924–1945

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born on 21 February 1924 at the Kutama Mission village in Southern Rhodesia's Zvimba District.[2] His father, Gabriel Matibiri, was a carpenter while his mother Bona taught Christian catechism to the village children.[3] They had been trained in their professions by the Jesuits, the Roman Catholic apostolic order which had established the mission.[4] Bona and Gabriel had six children: Miteri (Michael), Raphael, Robert, Dhonandhe (Donald), Sabina, and Bridgette.[5] They belonged to the Zezuru clan, one of the smallest branches of the Shona tribe.[6] Mugabe's paternal grandfather was Constantine Karigamombe, alias "Matibiri", a strong powerful figure, who served King Lobengula in the 19th century.[7] The Jesuits were strict disciplinarians and under their influence Mugabe developed an intense self-discipline,[4] while also becoming a devout Catholic.[8] Mugabe excelled at school,[9] where he was a secretive and solitary child,[10] preferring to read alone rather than playing sport or socialising with other children.[11] He was taunted by many of the other children, who regarded him as a coward and a mother's boy.[12]

Circa 1930, Gabriel had an argument with one of the Jesuits, and as a result the Mugabe family were expelled from the mission village by its French leader, Father Jean-Baptiste Loubiere.[13] They settled in a village about seven miles away, although the children were permitted to remain at the mission primary school, living with relatives in Kutama during term-time and returning to their parental home at weekends.[9] Around the same time, Robert's older brother Raphael died, likely of diarrhoea.[9] In early 1934, Robert's other older brother, Michael, also died, after consuming poisoned maize.[14] Later that year, Gabriel left his family in search of employment at Bulawayo.[15] He subsequently abandoned Bona and their six children and established a relationship with another woman, with whom he had three further offspring.[16]

Loubiere died shortly after and was replaced by an Irishman, Father Jerome O'Hea, who welcomed the Mugabe family to return to Kutama.[9] In contrast to the racism that permeated Southern Rhodesian society, under O'Hea's leadership the Kutama Mission preached an ethos of racial equality.[17] O'Hea nurtured the young Mugabe; shortly before his death in 1970 he described the latter as having "an exceptional mind and an exceptional heart".[18] As well as helping provide Mugabe with a Christian education, O'Hea taught him about the Irish War of Independence, in which Irish revolutionaries had overthrown the British imperial regime.[19] After completing six years of elementary education, in 1941 Mugabe was offered a place on a teacher training course at Kutama College; Mugabe's mother could not afford the tuition fees, which were paid in part by his grandfather and in part by O'Hea.[20] As part of this education, Mugabe began teaching at his old school, thus earning £2 per month, which he used to support his family.[21] In 1944, Gabriel returned to Kutama with his three new children, but died shortly after, leaving Robert to take financial responsibility for both his three siblings and three half-siblings.[21] Having attained a teaching diploma, Mugabe left Kutama in 1945.[22]

Teaching career: 1945–1960

Over the following years, Mugabe taught at various schools around Southern Rhodesia,[23] among them the Dadaya Mission school in Shabani.[24] There is no evidence that Mugabe was involved in political activity at the time, and did not participate in the country's 1948 general strike.[25] In 1949 he won a scholarship to study at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa's Eastern Cape.[26] There he joined the African National Congress,[27] and attended African nationalist meetings, where he met a number of Jewish South African communists who introduced him to Marxist ideas.[28] He later related that despite this exposure to Marxism, his biggest influence at the time were the actions of Mahatma Gandhi during the Indian independence movement.[29] In 1952, he left the university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and English literature.[30] In later years he described his time at Fort Hare as the "turning-point" in his life.[31]

Mugabe was inspired by the example set by Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah.

Mugabe returned to Southern Rhodesia in 1952,[32] by which time—he later related— he was "completely hostile to the [colonialist] system".[33] Here, his first job was as a teacher at the Driefontein Roman Catholic Mission School near Umvuma.[27] In 1953 he relocated to the Highfield Government School in Salisbury's Harari township and in 1954 to the Mambo Township Government School in Gwelo.[34] Meanwhile, he gained a Bachelor of Education degree by correspondence from the University of South Africa,[35] and ordered a number of Marxist tracts—among them Karl Marx's Capital and Friedrich Engels' The Condition of the Working Class in England—from a London mail-order company.[36] Despite his growing interest in politics, he was not active in any political movement.[33] He joined a number of inter-racial groups, such as the Capricorn Africa Society, through which he mixed with both black and white Rhodesians.[37] Guy Clutton-Brock, who knew Mugabe through this group, later noted that he was "an extraordinary young man" who could be "a bit of a cold fish at times" but "could talk about Elvis Presley or Bing Crosby as easily as politics".[38]

From 1955 to 1958, Mugabe lived in neighbouring Northern Rhodesia, where he worked at Chalimbana Teacher Training College in Lusaka.[35] There he continued his education by working on a second degree by correspondence, this time a Bachelor of Administration from the University of London International Programmes through distance and learning. [35] In Northern Rhodesia, he was taken in for a time by the family of Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mugabe inspired to join the liberation movement and who would later go on to be President of Zimbabwe.[39] In 1958, Mugabe moved to Ghana to work at St Mary's Teacher Training College in Takoradi.[40] He taught at Apowa Secondary School, also at Takoradi, after obtaining his local certification at Achimota College (1958–1960), where he met his first wife, Sally Hayfron.[41] According to Mugabe, "I went [to Ghana] as an adventurist. I wanted to see what it would be like in an independent African state".[42] Ghana had been the first African state to gain independence from European colonial powers and under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah underwent a range of African nationalist reforms; Mugabe revelled in this environment.[43] In tandem with his teaching, Mugabe attended the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute in Winneba.[44] Mugabe later claimed that it was in Ghana that he finally embraced Marxism.[45] He also began a relationship with a Ghanaian woman, Sally Hayfron, who worked at the college and shared his political interests.[46]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Robert Mugabe
العربية: روبرت موغابي
asturianu: Robert Mugabe
azərbaycanca: Robert Muqabe
беларуская: Роберт Мугабэ
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Робэрт Мугабэ
Bikol Central: Robert Mugabe
български: Робърт Мугабе
Boarisch: Robert Mugabe
bosanski: Robert Mugabe
brezhoneg: Robert Mugabe
català: Robert Mugabe
čeština: Robert Mugabe
Cymraeg: Robert Mugabe
Deutsch: Robert Mugabe
español: Robert Mugabe
Esperanto: Robert Mugabe
euskara: Robert Mugabe
føroyskt: Robert Mugabe
français: Robert Mugabe
Gaeilge: Robert Mugabe
hornjoserbsce: Robert Mugabe
hrvatski: Robert Mugabe
Bahasa Indonesia: Robert Mugabe
isiZulu: Robert Mugabe
íslenska: Robert Mugabe
italiano: Robert Mugabe
Basa Jawa: Robert Mugabe
Kapampangan: Robert Mugabe
Kiswahili: Robert Mugabe
latviešu: Roberts Mugabe
Lëtzebuergesch: Robert Mugabe
lietuvių: Robert Mugabe
македонски: Роберт Мугабе
Malagasy: Robert Mugabe
مازِرونی: رابرت موگابه
Bahasa Melayu: Robert Mugabe
Nederlands: Robert Mugabe
norsk nynorsk: Robert Mugabe
occitan: Robert Mugabe
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Robert Mugabe
Plattdüütsch: Robert Mugabe
português: Robert Mugabe
Ripoarisch: Robert Mugabe
română: Robert Mugabe
Runa Simi: Robert Mugabe
Simple English: Robert Mugabe
slovenčina: Robert Mugabe
slovenščina: Robert Mugabe
Soomaaliga: Robert Mugabe
српски / srpski: Роберт Мугабе
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Robert Mugabe
svenska: Robert Mugabe
Tagalog: Robert Mugabe
Taqbaylit: Robert Mugabe
Türkçe: Robert Mugabe
українська: Роберт Мугабе
Tiếng Việt: Robert Mugabe
Winaray: Robert Mugabe
Yorùbá: Robert Mugabe