Mugabe, Robert

▪ 2001

      During the first six months of 2000, Pres. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe suffered two political setbacks. In a referendum held on February 12–13, voters turned down a proposal for a new constitution that would have expanded his powers. In addition, in the June 24–25 parliamentary elections, the president's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), won only 62 of the 120 contested seats, with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change taking 57 and the ZANU-Ndonga capturing one. In the previous election, ZANU-PF had won all but two seats.

      Shortly after the February referendum, veterans of the Zimbabwean war for independence began to move onto white-owned farms. They did so with the approval of Mugabe, and law-enforcement officials generally refused to intercede, even when ordered to do so by the courts. Violence ensued, with people on both sides losing their lives. A constitutional amendment passed by the legislature on April 6 allowed Mugabe on May 24 to amend the 1992 Land Acquisition Act, which provided for the takeover of white-owned farms without compensation to the owners for the land, although payment would be made for existing structures. The property was to be redistributed to landless blacks. Meanwhile, the economy deteriorated further, with inflation running at 60% and unemployment at more than 50%, and some observers believed that Mugabe promoted the farm takeovers to distract attention from the country's problems as well as to institute long-promised land reform.

      Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born on Feb. 21, 1924, in Kutama, then in Southern Rhodesia. He received an education from the Jesuits and at age 17 became a teacher in a mission school. He then studied at the University of Fort Hare, Alice, S.Af., where he received a B.A. degree in 1951 and where he was introduced to Marxist thought. During the 1950s he taught in Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and in Ghana, and he joined the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), the nationalist movement of Joshua Nkomo. In 1963 Mugabe helped form ZANU, a breakaway group. He was arrested by the Rhodesian white colonial government in 1964 and during 10 years in detention took correspondence courses from the University of London, receiving degrees in law and administration. Upon release he went into exile, primarily in Mozambique, where he headed nationalist guerrilla forces. He participated in the talks with Rhodesia that resulted in independence for Zimbabwe, and following elections in April 1980 he became prime minister.

      Initially, Mugabe ran a tolerant regime, including black opponents as well as whites in the government, and he spent money on schools and health clinics. Increasingly, however, his government became corrupt, with opposition often brutally suppressed. In 1987 he effectively made Zimbabwe a one-party state under ZANU-PF and assumed the position of president. As much as half of the arable land in Zimbabwe was owned by some 4,000 white farmers, and although the farms supplied most of the country's exports, Mugabe had often threatened to seize them.

Robert Rauch

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▪ president of Zimbabwe
in full  Robert Gabriel Mugabe  
born February 21, 1924, Kutama, Southern Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe]
 
 the first prime minister (1980–87) of the reconstituted state of Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia. A black nationalist of Marxist persuasion, he eventually established one-party rule in his country, becoming executive president of Zimbabwe in 1987.

      The son of a village carpenter, Mugabe was trained as a teacher in a Roman Catholic mission school. He was introduced to nationalist politics while he was a student at the University College of Fort Hare, South Africa, and between 1956 and 1960 he taught in Ghana.

      Mugabe returned to Rhodesia in 1960, and in 1963 he helped the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole to form the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) as a breakaway from Joshua Nkomo (Nkomo, Joshua)'s Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU). In 1964 he was arrested for “subversive speech” and spent the next 10 years in prison. During that period he acquired law degrees by correspondence courses. While still in prison he led a coup in 1974 deposing Sithole as ZANU's leader.

      In 1975 Mugabe was freed, and during the civil war that pitted Rhodesia's black majority population against Prime Minister Ian Smith (Smith, Ian)'s white-ruled Rhodesian government (1975–79), Mugabe was joint leader, with Nkomo, of the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe. The party's guerrillas operated against the Rhodesian government from bases in neighbouring Zambia, Mozambique, and Angola. Fresh negotiations in London in 1979 ended the war and led to new British-supervised parliamentary elections in February 1980. Mugabe's party won a landslide victory over the other black parties, and he became prime minister.

      As prime minister, Mugabe initially followed a pragmatic course designed to reassure Zimbabwe's remaining white farmers and businessmen, whose skills were vital to the economy. He formed a coalition government between his party, ZANU (which drew its support from the majority Shona people), and Nkomo's ZAPU (which drew its support from the minority Ndebele people), and he abided by the new constitution's guarantees of substantial parliamentary representation for whites. At the same time, Mugabe took steps to improve the lot of black Zimbabweans through increased wages, improved social services, and food subsidies. In 1982 Mugabe ousted Nkomo from the coalition cabinet, and ethnic strife between the Shona and the Ndebele subsequently troubled the country. Zimbabwe's economy steadily declined despite Mugabe's measures, and whites continued to emigrate in substantial numbers.

      Mugabe had always intended to convert Zimbabwe from a parliamentary democracy into a one-party socialist state. In 1984 his party, now called the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, held a congress, made Mugabe its unchallenged leader, and set up a new party structure with a Central Committee and a Politburo that were designed to rule both the party and Zimbabwe. In 1987 Mugabe's and Nkomo's parties merged into one under the name of ZANU-PF, and as first secretary of the new party, Mugabe retained absolute control over it. On December 31, 1987, he became Zimbabwe's first executive president, effectively establishing one-party rule. In 1990 he was reelected president in a multiparty election that was marked by intimidation and violence.

      Mugabe faced growing unrest in the late 1990s. A failing economy and his decision to send troops to assist President Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in his fight against rebels led to strikes, and in November 1998 riots occurred following Mugabe's announcement that he and members of his cabinet would receive pay increases. Factions within ZANU-PF continued to press for a true multiparty system. The first real opposition to Mugabe's government came from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), formed in September 1999 and led by trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai (Tsvangirai, Morgan). In the parliamentary elections of 2000, the MDC won about half of the contested seats, but ZANU-PF won or controlled most of the remaining seats and thus maintained firm control of Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, war veterans, demanding immediate land reforms, threatened to occupy some of the country's white-owned farms. Mugabe showed sympathy for their cause, doing nothing to dissuade them. In the months leading to the 2000 parliamentary elections, the veterans acted on their threats, which led to heightened tensions in the country.

      Although Mugabe was reelected in 2002, the elections were tainted by violence and criticized by observers. A law passed later that year allowed Mugabe to pursue an aggressive program of confiscating white-owned farms; more than half of the country's white farmers were forced to relinquish their property. Unfortunately, property was often claimed by politically connected individuals with little or no farming experience. The government's lack of forethought in forcing out the white farmers and failing to replace them with experienced farmworkers contributed to a significant decline in agricultural productivity; this, as well as a drought, led to severe food shortages in Zimbabwe.

      As Mugabe's popularity further declined, his regime became increasingly brutal and repressive. Media freedom was curtailed, the opposition was harassed and beaten, and a controversial program that caused the demolition of illegal housing structures was implemented, rendering hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans homeless. The economy continued to decline, and in 2007 the country had the highest rate of inflation in the world, as well as one of the highest rates of unemployment. Most Zimbabweans did not have adequate access to basic commodities, such as food or fuel, and Mugabe's administration continued to be the subject of much international criticism. Despite this, Mugabe remained popular within ZANU-PF, and in December 2007 the party endorsed Mugabe as its presidential candidate in the 2008 elections.

      In the months leading up to the elections, the country continued its downward economic spiral, with its inflation rate surpassing 100,000 percent. Support for Mugabe appeared to waver: former finance minister and ZANU-PF stalwart Simba Makoni announced that he was running against Mugabe for the presidency, and the MDC, with Tsvangirai as its presidential candidate, saw its popularity increase throughout the country, even in areas that were typically ZANU-PF strongholds. Presidential, parliamentary, and local elections were held on March 29, 2008. Unofficial preliminary results indicated a favourable outcome for Tsvangirai and the MDC, but, as days passed with only a slow, partial release of parliamentary results (and the complete absence of presidential results), many feared that Mugabe and ZANU-PF were manipulating the outcome of the elections in their favour. On April 2 the MDC released its own account of presidential election results, which indicated that Mugabe had lost to Tsvangirai by capturing slightly less than half the votes; the MDC's claims were dismissed by ZANU-PF. Official results released later that day indicated that ZANU-PF had lost its majority in the House of Assembly, but Senate results announced several days later revealed a split between the MDC and ZANU-PF, with the latter receiving an only slightly larger share of the votes. There was no official announcement of the final results for the presidential contest until May 2, when it was announced that Mugabe had received 43.2 percent of the votes and Tsvangirai 47.9 percent. However, since no candidate had secured a majority of the votes, a runoff election would be necessary, which was later scheduled for June 27.

      The weeks leading up to the runoff election were plagued with political violence, which the MDC asserted was sponsored by Mugabe's ZANU-PF-led government; the government in turn claimed that the MDC was responsible. An increasingly tense climate was further heightened by several government actions, including the detention of Tsvangirai and several other MDC officials and supporters, as well as several diplomats from the United Kingdom and the United States who were in the midst of investigating reports of preelection violence, the suspension of all humanitarian aid operations in the country, and statements from Mugabe implying that he would not cede power to the opposition if he lost the runoff election. Less than a week before the election, Tsvangirai announced that he would withdraw from the contest, citing the impossibility of a free and fair election in the country's current climate of violence and intimidation. Nevertheless, the election was still held, and Mugabe was declared the winner despite assertions from independent observers that the election was neither free nor fair.

 The fact that the election was even held—as well as the outcome—prompted widespread international condemnation, most notably from the governments of African countries that had previously supported Mugabe, and there were calls for the MDC and ZANU-PF to form a power-sharing government. To that end, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) sponsored negotiations, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki (Mbeki, Thabo), between Mugabe, Tsvangirai, and Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a MDC splinter faction. After several weeks of negotiations, the three Zimbabwean leaders signed a comprehensive power-sharing agreement on September 15, 2008. As part of the agreement, Mugabe would remain president but would cede some power to Tsvangirai, who would serve as prime minister; Mutambara would serve as a deputy prime minister.

      In the months that followed, Mugabe and Tsvangirai could not come to terms on how to implement the agreement, arguing over how to allocate the new government's key ministries between ZANU-PF and the MDC. Stalled talks and repeated attempts by the SADC to get discussions back on track continued against a backdrop of worsening economic and humanitarian conditions in Zimbabwe. In addition, dozens of MDC supporters, reporters, and human rights activists had disappeared; the MDC alleged that they had been abducted by ZANU-PF- and government-allied forces. International support of continued negotiations for the implementation of the power-sharing government began to wane, with some critics calling for Mugabe to step down from power; he adamantly refused to do so, stating, “I will never, never, never surrender. Zimbabwe is mine, I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans.”

      Mugabe wrote an article for the 1982 Britannica Book of the Year (events of 1981) detailing the black majority's struggle for independence. See .

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mugabe, Robert (Gabriel) — born Feb. 21, 1924, Kutama, Southern Rhodesia First prime minister (1980–87) and executive president (from 1987) of Zimbabwe. With Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe led a Marxist inspired guerrilla war that forced the white dominated government of Ian Smith… …   Universalium

  • Mugabe, Robert (Gabriel) — (n. 21 feb. 1924, Kutama, Rhodesia del Sur). Primero en ocupar el cargo de primer ministro (1980–87) y de presidente (desde 1987) en Zimbabwe. Junto a Joshua Nkomo, encabezó una guerra de guerrillas de orientación marxista que obligó al gobierno… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Mugabe,Robert Gabriel — Mu·ga·be (mo͝o gäʹbē), Robert Gabriel. Born 1924. Zimbabwean politician who led the Black nationalist struggle against the white minority government of Rhodesia. After Zimbabwe s independence (1980), he was elected prime minister, then executive… …   Universalium

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  • Robert Gabriel Mugabe — Robert Mugabe Robert Mugabe 4e président de la République du Zimbabwe …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Mugabe — ist der Name folgender Personen: Grace Mugabe (* 1965), zweite Ehefrau von Robert Mugabe Leo Mugabe, simbabwischer Politiker; Sohn von Sabina Mugabe Robert Mugabe (* 1924), Chef der ZANU Partei, 1980 bis 1987 Premierminister und seit 1987… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mugabe — Mugabe,   Robert Gabriel, Politiker in Simbabwe, * Kutoma (Maschonaland) 21. 2. 1924; studierte Philosophie, Englisch, Geschichte, Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Jura, arbeitete danach als Lehrer (u. a. auch in Ghana), kehrte 1960 nach …   Universal-Lexikon

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