A look at Robert Mugabe’s leadership as his time as Zimbabwe president comes to an end

Following the impeachment of Robert Mugabe, we take a look at his time as the Zimbabwe leader.

When Mugabe came into power in 1980, it seemed like peace had finally come to Zimbabwe. However after a fleeting honeymoon period, things went severely wrong.

Robert Mugabe has now resigned 

Once courted by some of the world’s leaders, Mugabe has since become an international pariah. A symbol of violence and oppression.

His tenures as prime minister and later as president were marked by political division, public repression, war, a destroyed economy and multiple accounts of election rigging. However, his iron grip on power has finally been loosened, his violent reign finally at an end.

Mugabe was born in 1924 in what was then the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, and raised at a Roman Catholic mission statement.

Rhodesia had a substantial white population. As the British government began withdrawing from its colonial empires, the white settlers declared independence in 1965, in an effort to avoid black majority rule.

It was at this time that Mugabe began his career in politics, demanding equal rights. He helped form the political party Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). Soon after, he was thrown in jail for ten years in 1964.

After his release, he fled to Mozambique, joining a guerrilla wing of ZANU, soon clawing his way up until he became the sole commander. ZANU and its rival group ZAPU fought to free the country from white rule. In this time he became something of a symbol of the revolutionary struggle. Something he has repeatedly capitalised on over the years in order to keep power.

When the two rebel groups formed a temporary alliance, named the Patriotic Front, the white regime was forced to the negotiating table.

At a peace conference organised in London in late 1979, Mugabe won the support of the western powers by reigning in his Marxist ideology and allowing whites to retain their property and political rights. Elections took place the following year and Mugabe was swept in to power of the newly formed independent nation of Zimbabwe.

For almost twenty years Zimbabwe was relatively peaceful with Mugabe being seen as the’ darling of the west’. So when he began arresting prominent opponents in 1982 and killing their supporters in 1983, the international reaction was muted.

The killings mainly focused on the Ndebele minority with an estimated 20, 000 people being killed.

After these atrocities Mugabe became president in 1987, Zimbabwe now effectively a one-party state. Every election since has been rigged through intimidation, bribery, kidnapping and murder. The media being kept in a strangle hold by the state.

Independence and supposed freedom did nothing to improve the lives of the majority of Zimbabwean’s and in search of a scapegoat, in the early 2000’s. Mugabe began an aggressive campaign in ‘reclaiming’ white-owned farmland.

Things just went from bad to worse, as violence against the people, white and black, escalated. With land being stolen, economic and political unrest was rampant. It wasn’t long before the country was suffering from hyperinflation.

This led to economic collapse, food shortages and the rise of a strong anti-Mugabe movement. However even with international condemnation, Mugabe managed to hold onto power.

Mugabe never named a successor, and cut down anyone who became too influential, even old colleagues.

It was only when he tried to support his wife, Grace, in a supposed bid for succession, that the army stepped in. Robert Mugabe’s tyranny over the people of Zimbabwe was at an end. The only question now, is if his replacement will make any real change to the situation, or continue the same corrupt practices.

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