Who is Mugabe?
After the administration of the Rhodesian Prime Minister Edgar Whitehead banned the National Democratic Party (NDP) in September 1961, it almost immediately reformed as the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo. Originally a member of ZAPU, Mugabe left in 1963 to join the breakaway Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), the latter maintaining a more Pan Afrikanist stance, while the former had a more "integrationist" position. Mugabe rose to prominence in the 1960s as the Secretary General of ZANU during the heightening conflict between the conservative white minority government of Rhodesia and the more moderate Black groups. Mugabe's growing dissatisfaction with the political climate in Rhodesia and his growing "militancy" landed him in prison--he was a political prisoner for more than 10 years between 1964 and 1974.
The Road to Independence
In prison Mugabe earned numerous degrees by correspondence courses, including three from the University of London: degrees in Law, Economics and a Bachelor of Administration. In 1974, while still imprisoned, Mugabe was elected as the head of ZANU. Following a South African détente initiative, Mugabe was released from prison in December 1974 along with other Nationalist leaders. Upon release, Mugabe, along with Edgar Tekere, left Rhodesia in 1975 to re-join the fight during the Rhodesian Bush War from bases in Mozambique. Mugabe unilaterally assumed control of ZANU after the death of Herbert Chitepo on 18 March 1975. Later that year, after internal disagreements within ZANU, Mugabe formed a militant faction, leaving Sithole to lead the moderate ZANU wing. When Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith was pressured by the US and South Africa to accept in principle that white minority rule could not continue indefinitely, on March 3, 1978, he signed an agreement with moderate leaders Bishop Muzorewa, Sithole and other at the Governor's Lodge in Salisbury, that paved the way for an interim power-sharing government, in preparation for elections. The elections were won by the United African National Council under Bishop Abel Muzorewa, but all were not satisfied and Mugabe and Nkomo of ZANU and ZAPU formed a 'Patriotic Front' groups called ZANU-PF and continued the war.
With the fighting continuing, the incoming government accepted an invitation to talks at Lancaster House in September 1979. A ceasefire was negotiated for the talks, which were attended by Smith, Mugabe, Nkomo, Zvobgo and others. Mugabe had emerged from the war as a hero and devoted Pan Afrikanist. His permanent return to Zimbabwe in December 1979, following the completion of the Lancaster House Agreement, was greeted by huge and supportive crowds. The Lancaster House talks had agreed on a new constitution for a new Republic of Zimbabwe with elections in February 1980. Mugabe won the general elections of 1980 after calling for reconciliation between the former belligerents, including white Zimbabweans and rival political parties. Mugabe became Prime Minister on Zimbabwe's independence in April 1980.
From the beginning Mugabe's task was to balance the interest of his political supporters who came from his Shona-speaking homeland in the north, and his ZAPU rivals, whose support came from the Ndebele-speaking south, and the white minority. Mugabe sought to incorporate ZAPU into his ZANU led government and ZAPU's military wing into the army. ZAPU's leader, Joshua Nkomo, was given a series of cabinet positions in Mugabe's government. Between 1982 and 1985 at least 20,000 people died in internal power struggles between ZANU and ZAPU. As an outcome of the political machinations, Mugabe consolidated his power in December 1987, when he was declared executive president by parliament, combining the roles of head of state, head of government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, with powers to dissolve parliament and declare martial law. After more political infighting, and overcoming Western interference, ZAPU reunited into ZANU-PF on 22 December 1988, and Mugabe brought Nkomo into the government once again as a vice-president.
Mugabe's believed that "a new 'progressive' society could not be constructed on the foundations of the past [and] that they would have to destroy most of what had been built up after 1900 before a new society, based on subsistence and peasant values could be constructed." When Zimbabwe gained independence, 46.5% of the country's arable land was owned by around 6,000 white commercial farmers, who made up less than 1% of the population, yet owned 70% of the best farming land. Mugabe accepted a "willing buyer, willing seller" plan as part of the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, among other concessions to the white minority. As part of this agreement, land redistribution was blocked for a period of 10 years. However, in 1997, the new British government, led by Tony Blair, unilaterally stopped funding the "willing buyer, willing seller" land reform program. Britain's ruling Labour Party felt no obligation to continue paying white farmers compensation, or in minister Clare Short's words, "I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds, without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers".
The New Labour Party wanted to get rid of Robert Mugabe as early as 1997, even before the Fast Track land reform program was to begin. Soni Rajan: “It was absolutely clear from the attitude of her [Clare Short’s] staff towards my recommendations that Labour's strategy was to accelerate Mugabe's unpopularity by failing to provide him with funding for land redistribution. They thought if they didn't give him the money for land reform, his people in the rural areas would start to turn against him. That was their position; they wanted him out and they were going to do whatever they could to hasten his demise.”
Being betrayed the Mugabe government took action. From 12 to 13 February 2000, a referendum on constitutional amendments was held. A proposed amendments allowed the government to confiscate white-owned land for redistribution to Black farmers without compensation. The motion failed with 55% of participants voting against the referendum. In reality, the referendum had a 20% turnout and did not reflect the will of the people. The referendum was sabotaged by an effective counter campaign fueled by Short Messaging Solution (SMS). Nevertheless, the vote was a surprise to ZANU-PF, and an embarrassment before parliamentary elections due in mid-April. Mugabe declared that he would "abide by the will of the people." However, almost immediately, "war veterans," led by Chenjerai Hunzvi, began invading white-owned farms. Those who did not leave voluntarily were often tortured and sometimes killed. On 6 April 2000, Parliament pushed through an amendment, taken word for word from the draft constitution that was rejected by voters, allowing the seizure of white-owned farmlands without due reimbursement or payment. Zimbabwe was suspended from the British Commonwealth of Nations as a result of these actions. The purpose of the Commonwealth's action was to cut foreign aid to Zimbabwe and ruin its struggling economy. In December 2003, in protest against a further 18 months of suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations Mugabe withdrew his country from the Commonwealth. The international community led by the US and the UK sought to weaken Mugabe. Foreign interest began to support (if it did not create altogether) a group that opposed to constitutional referendum, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Following the redistribution of formerly white owned land to Black farmers, Zimbabwe’s commercial farming collapsed, triggering years of hyperinflation and food shortages. The food shortages were due in part to droughts and economic sanctions. In the 2008 election Mugabe was pressured by his regional allies to form an inclusive government with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as vice president. Again, the MDC's interest favors the white minority and Western powers and despite the legitimate concerns the MDC might have and proffer, ZANU-PF is well aware of whose interest they ultimately represents. Under various economic sanctions, and the vilification of Mugabe, Zimbabwe has remained steadfast in its commitment to development.
In November 2010 the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University in England released a comprehensive study on the effects of Zimbabwean land reform. The study suggested that the consequences were mixed but that previous claims that the reform was a failure, that its primary recipients were political "cronies" or that it caused rural collapse were unfounded. One of the study's authors, Professor Ian Scoones, stated: "What comes through from our research is the complexity, the differences in experience, almost farm by farm; there is no single, simple story of the Zimbabwe land reform as sometimes assumed by press reports, political commentators, or indeed much academic study"
Indigenization & Black Economic Empowerment
Mugabe's Pan Africanism and Race First philosophy has resulted in a number of people accusing Mugabe of having a racist attitude towards white people. But in fact, Mugabe is a man that has an understanding of history, including a history of the Afrikan Diaspora, so his actions are not in a vacuum. Mugabe points to neocolonialist attitudes and policies as being a major encumbrance to the development of Zimbabwe and the Afrikan continent in general. He has established Zimbabwean policies that try to right the wrongs of imperialism and the economic disadvantages that it has established in his country. When the UK condemned Mugabe's authoritarian policies and alleged racist attitudes as being comparable to those of German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. Mugabe responded: "I am still the Hitler of the time, [...] This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for. On 9 March 2008, Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe signed the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill into law. The bill was passed through parliament in September 2007 by President Mugabe's party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), in spite of resistance by the opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Mugabe said his drive to give black Zimbabweans greater control of the southern African economy will continue "unabated" following his "resounding" endorsement in the 31 July elections. "The indigenization and empowerment drive will continue unabated in order to ensure that indigenous Zimbabweans enjoy a larger share of the country's resources." Mr Mugabe says giving black Zimbabweans control of the business sector is the next step and said the election result had given him a "resounding mandate" to do so. "We will do everything in our power to ensure our objective of total indigenisation, empowerment, development and employment is realised," he told a public rally to mark the annual Defence Forces Day. He said the policy was the "final phase of the liberation struggle" and "final phase of total independence". And quiet as it is kept, within the last 18 months Zimbabwe's economy is coming around.
And now Mugabe is head of the African Union. Let's keep our eyes on the policies of this champion of Pan Afrikanism and Afrikan Empowerment!!! He cannot expect too much in his year as head but let's keep an eye out for the direction he points the AU in. Clearly Mugabe has not been a perfect leader but let us be mindful of his mission. (I have my own criticisms of him.) And also be suspect of Western reporting, i.e., PROPAGANDA.cutting foreign aid to Zimbabwe