Robert Mugabe’s story begins with him being a hero; but ends with him as a villain. His name remains infamous amongst the world, especially within the continent of Africa. He was one of Africa’s longest ruling leaders and was one of the main people who helped Zimbabwe gain its independence; yet many say his rule ended in tyranny, corruption, and abuse.
Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924, in Southern Rhodesia, which is now known as the country of Zimbabwe. Before he became the leader of Zimbabwe in the 1980s, Mugabe was a teacher. He received his degree from St. Francis Xavier College in 1945. He didn’t stop there and went on to pursue further education at Fort Hare University, in South Africa, where Nelson Mandela also attended. Once he graduated, he taught in Ghana, where he met his first wife, Sally Hayfron. He taught in Ghana for about 15 years.
Robert Mugabe was dedicated to his political affiliations, joining the pro-independence National Democratic party in 1960. A year later the party was banned and it reformed as the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union which after two-year Mugabe left. He then joined what is his political home today the Zimbabwe African National Union. Years later, in 1964, his political party was banned and Robert Mugabe was imprisoned. While in prison, Mugabe taught English to other prisoners and earned multiple honorary graduate degrees from the University of London. Ten years later, in 1974, he was freed and forced into exile in Zambia. There, he gained control of ZANU’s military, and later, he used that power to become Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
Controversy surrounded Mugabe in the 1990s after his continuous reelections. He started a civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo; which many believe this was only done to seize the country’s diamonds and minerals. During this time, his first wife died and he remarried. His second wife’s name is Grace. His controversial reign continued in 2000, when he started a referendum to change Zimbabwe’s constitution. His changes benefitted his black nationalist Marxist views by establishing a one-party rule making him president instead of prime minister. He was the first president in the history of Zimbabwe. His changes also included allowing the government to take over “white owned” lands. This sparked a wave of violence from the people as white-owned farms began to be invaded, resulting in Zimbabwe’s whites fleeing the country. Zimbabwe’s economy began to plummet when its commercial farming collapsed, resulting in hyperinflation and food shortages.
In Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential elections, many believed that Mugabe and his political party were tampering with the election’s outcome. Polls showed favor to his opponent; but many believed Mugabe tampered with the voting. The election was a tight race and no one received the majority of the people’s votes so they opted for a run-off election. It caused a spark of violence with each political party blaming the other. Days before the runoff election, Mugabe’s opponent dropped out of the race, stating that there was an unfair intimidating political environment. Mugabe was elected once again by default. Any election that took place after became a landslide for Mugabe. With him and his political party, they created an intimidating and dangerous climate for those to tried to go against him.
In 2017, a military coup was held in attempt to bring justice to Zimbabwe and criminalize Mugabe and those who supported him. Mugabe was placed under house arrest. They threatened to impeach him and charge him and his wife for wrongly attaining power. Soon after Mugabe sent out a letter resigning as president of Zimbabwe.
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COWELL, JEFFREY MOYO and ALAN, et al. “Robert Mugabe.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Feb. 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/topic/person/robert-mugabe.
History.com Staff. “Robert Mugabe.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/robert-mugabe.
“Robert Mugabe | World News.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, http://www.theguardian.com/world/robert-mugabe.
“Robert Mugabe Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Feb. 2018, http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/30/world/africa/robert-mugabe—fast-facts/index.html.