From hero to villain: Robert Mugabe
He was a hero of the black people. A revolutionary fighter who fought against the white racist government in Rhodesia. After he became president, the world had high hopes. But after 18 years in power, Robert Mugabe degenerated into a paranoid madman. By 2013, the economy of the Republic of Zimbabwe lies in ruins. 80% are unemployed, the national currency has been replaced by the US dollar and other currencies. The once proud food-grain producer of Africa is now totally bankrupt, thanks to Robert Mugabe and his autocracy!
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born on February 21 1924. He lived south of Salisbury ( now Harare ) in the British colony of Rhodesia. Mugabe was raised as a Roman Catholic and remains one to this day. Unlike other children, the young Mugabe was a loner. He did not have much friends and rather loved his own company of others. According to his brother, Mugabe's only real friends were books!
From 1951 till 1960 he studied in many cities and earned bachelors of education, science, administration and arts. After nine years he joined the National Democratic Party, but that party was banned by the white racist government in Rhodesia. The NDP reformed as the Zimbabwe African People's Union. But Mugabe left this party to join the rival; Zimbabwe African National Union. ZAPU was the party that was more in line with the Soviet-Union, they wanted a urban workers revolution. Yet ZANU was more peasant based and in line with the People's Republic of China!
Like many African liberation movements, ZANU and ZAPU called themselves ''Marxist Leninist''. This was needed in order to gain support from both the Soviet-Union and the People's Republic of China. Yet between ZANU and ZAPU were bitter rivalries. This was partly because of the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960's. Robert Mugabe was arrested by the white Rhodesian regime in November 1965. For more then 10 years he would remain in jail. This may have led to his hatred of whites and a beginning of his paranoid personality.
In 1974, his son died. The white government refused him to participate in the funeral. In April 1975 he and other black nationalist leaders were realised, after a ten year prison sentence. In the same year, Mugabe got control over the ZANU party. He started to use terrorist means of fighting against the white regime. These attacks on the Rhodesian government made him a hero in the eye's of poor blacks, who saw that the whites were afraid for the first time!
After four years the Rhodesian government wanted to talk with Mugabe. During these talks Mugabe made a few compromises. He would reserve 20 seats in the new parliament for white people and he would stop with his terrorist attacks. So the white racist government of Rhodesia allowed ZANU to participate in the first none-racist elections in Rhodesian-Zimbabwean history!
But the elections were far from fair. Both ZANU and the Rhodesian Front used intimidations and fear against each other. Robert Mugabe said that he would resume fighting if he was not elected leader of Rhodesia-Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe African National Union won 57 out of 80 seats, 20 seats went to the Rhodesian Front. Robert Mugabe was elected prime minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe on April 18 1980!
This was the first time that a black man was elected president in a former white racist nation. Many western nations had great hopes for peace and tolerance between whites and blacks in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe seemed to be a man of his word. But soon the Republic of Zimbabwe would degenerated into a one man autocracy. It all started with the killing of 20.000 ZAPU supporters in 1982!
The relations with the Zimbabwe African People's Union were not very good. ZAPU was the pro-Soviet party, while ZANU was pro-Chinese. Beside ZAPU was critical of Mugabe unlike his ZANU who were completely loyal. In 1982, the government of Mugabe claimed that ZAPU supporters from the Matabeleland and Midlands, wanted to start an uprising with Soviet weapons. The army killed between 10.000 and 20.000 innocent people!
In 1987 the remains of ZAPU were forced to fuse with ZANU. Mugabe became leader of the new fusion party called; Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front. Opposition parties to ZANU-PF were not banned, but though intimidation and voter fraud, ZANU-PF won every election with ease. Mugabe dissolved the office of prime minister and created the office of President of the Republic of Zimbabwe!
His economic politics were based on a bureaucratic planned economy. The state owned the means of production, but did not gave political power to the working class. Like all nations who copied Soviet economics, the most economical power was giving to the elite of the ruling party. ZANU-PF leaders were giving control over state-enterprises and had a good life style, like the Soviet bureaucrats!
Also the state was spending far to much money then it receive. This led to a sharp fall in GDP between 1980 and 1984. Robert Mugabe wanted to build ''African socialism in one nation'' like many Stalinist and ''African-Socialist'' states tried. But they were confronted with the same problems. Problems like low economy grow and bureaucratic inefficiency. These problems also arouse because all these states were nationalist in character and not internationalist. All wanted to build ''socialism'' for themselves, they were also huge protectionists. Like ZANU-PF in Zimbawe, to FREMILO in Mozambique and MLPA in Angola!
By 1990, stalinism ( and African socialism ) collapsed. Robert Mugabe and many African nations started with market reforms. But the workers did not know how to behave in a market based economy. Many of them were not familiar with the idea that they had to compete, suddenly the market was God, competition was King.
In the 90's the economy of Zimbawe collapsed. The transaction from a planned economy to a market one, was bad for workers and poor peasants. At the same Robert Mugabe became jealous of white farmers. His jealousy came from his hatred of whites in general. White farmers knew how to work the land. During the times of Rhodesia, those farmers made the nation wealthy. Yet black farmers were not able to manage the newly state farms. The state owned food grain farms were inefficiently and poorly managed. All this had to do with the fact that Mugabe wanted all control and management in the hands of his ZANU-PF friends. The peasants had no control at all, they were forced to obey!
Soon Mugabe started with forced expropriation of white farmers land. Black ZANU-PF leaders were giving those lands to own, yet again they had no idea how to run it. Farm land soon became worthless, as grain production went down each year. The former food grain producer of Africa was by 1998, forced to import grain from other African nations!
Robert Mugabe also intervened in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This civil war stared in 1998 after Mobutu was removed from power. The former Republic of Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet political chaos soon erupted between different groups. Mugabe supported the government of Congo and ordered his air force and soldiers to aid the government. This intervention was costly as the economy of Zimbabwe was too weak for a military operation!
Yet Zimbabwe fought for five years in Congo. The war was costly and the Zimbabwean GDP fell to -20% in 2003. It took seven years before the economy would grow again. Between 2002 and 2010 the economy was very weak with no economic grow. 80% of all workers are unemployed in today's Zimbabwe. Those who have a good job, are mostly members of ZANU-PF. The elderly Robert Mugabe has lost all connections to his people. After the death of his first wife he married a woman who was born in 1965. Grace Mugabe is 48 years old, while Robert Mugabe is 88 years old. There is 40 years of age difference between the two.
While many workers in Zimbabwe suffer from poverty and hunger. Grace Mugabe loves to shop in the western world. In 2003 she spend over 115.000 US dollars while on a short shopping spree in Paris. Meanwhile the economy of Zimbabwe was collapsed and many workers lived in poverty. Yet Grace Mugabe was shopping in Paris, spending 115.000 US dollars. In 2004 she removed 4 million British pounds ( 6 million dollars ) from the National Bank of Zimbabwe for her personal use!
In 2008, Robert Mugabe was faced with a great danger. His party lost the election for the first time. Even with voter fraud, ZANU-PF lost to the Movement for Democratic Changes. The original MCD was led by Morgan Richard Tsvangirai who was in opposition to Mugabe. During the presidential elections, ZANU-PF supporters attacked and intimidated MDC leaders. But even that could not stop the downfall. Robert Mugabe lost to Tsvangirai during the first round. Yet the paranoid dictator refused to give up power. He ordered a second round. After massive intimidations by police and militia groups, Robert Mugabe won 85%, Tsvangirai got 9,5%. This while Mugabe won 43,2% during the first round and Tsvangirai 47,8%. By all accounts, Tsvangirai should have become president of Zimbabwe!
Because ZANU-PF was using intimidation and fiscal attacks on MDC supporters, Tsvangirai decided to make a compromise with Mugabe. The old dictator remained president, Tsvangirai became prime minister. Yet some MDC members did not wanted to make a compromise. Arthur Guseni Oliver Mutambara founded his own Movement for Democratic Changes and so Zimbabwe has two parties with the name MDC!
New elections are to be held this year. But Zimbabwe is not ready for a fair election. ZANU-PF groups will use intimidations again and again, until the majority of people vote for ZANU-PF. Robert Mugabe is still the leader of Zimbabwe. But he is far form the hero he was in 1980. He is paranoid, a black supremacist and anti-Semitic. But unlike North Korea, there is no son to succeed him. The death of Robert Mugabe could bring genuine change to Zimbabwe. Unfortunate the MDC will not do that. Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is a supporter of capitalism and will turn Zimbabwe into another capitalist hell on earth!
There is only one revolutionary socialist group active in Zimbabwe; the Internationalist Socialist Organisation. The ISO is part of the International Socialist Tendency led by the British; Socialist Workers Party. Like all opposition forces to Robert Mugabe, the ISO has been targeted by the Zimbabwean police and ''justice''. Arrest and torture of ISO members is not uncommon. The dictatorial government justify the arrests as an ''attempt to stop an uprising against Mugabe''.
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe have now ruled for four years together. But Zimbabwe remains depended on foreign aid. Its economy remains weak and 2/3 of all workers don't have work. The market reforms have led to more poverty and inequality. It is time for workers to rise up and destroy the Mugabe dictatorial regime!
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