Skip to main content

Mugabe - from hero to pariah

By CNN's Jeff Koinange

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- There was a time when Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe, was the hero of the nation and the darling of the West -- the man who over-rode the former Rhodesia's white colonial legacy and created a stable black majority democracy.

But five years ago he moved to speed up a controversial land acquisition program that effectively took land away from the country's commercial white farmers and handed it out to blacks -- most of them party loyalists.

Many farmers and their workers were killed in the violence that followed.

Political analyst Brian Nkarogo said: "The land reform program has been a disaster. It was a necessary process -- we needed to redistribute to deal with historical factors -- but because it was ad hoc, violent and destructive, it didn't result in economic growth and social integration."

Almost overnight, Mugabe the unbeatable became Mugabe the vulnerable, and his ruling Zanu-PF party was suddenly on a backward slide.

Mugabe survived a hotly contested presidential challenge in 2002, but analysts say he has been politically wounded and may have overstayed his welcome.

"I think the ghosts of the past, the ghosts of colonial rule, the ghosts of the failure of his government to transform into a democratic government, the same manner that Mandela and others tried to transform into democratic governments, is one that haunts him," Nkarogo said.

"Yet he had been there longer and survived more turbulent times in this region perhaps is something that hurts him and perhaps something he cannot remedy in the remaining time and he's way past his sell-by-date."

Enter former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai -- the man who has hounded Mugabe in election after election.

His party, the Movement for Democratic Change or MDC, has according to experts, become Mugabe's Achilles' heel, despite losing in two elections.

But the momentum is on again in this parliamentary campaign season and the MDC is drawing big crowds.

In each election since 2000, the MDC has come up short. This time around though, they are hoping to turn the tide and hand the ruling Zanu-PF party its first defeat since independence, 25-years ago.

And the opposition seems to be smelling blood and feel victory may finally be in sight.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, has said: "Mugabe has no option but to go."

Away from the campaign trail, Tsvangirai is quick to say Mugabe has been his own worst enemy, turning Zimbabwe into a pariah nation.

"Mugabe has pushed his luck too far in terms of fighting the world. There's no way a country can live as an island and the fact that he's been defying both national and international opinion has had an effect on the general feelings within Zanu-PF."

But Mugabe continues to campaign for his party, although his rallies have failed to draw in the crowds he once commanded. Still, he remains adamant, hammering away at anyone and everyone he views as an enemy of the state.

He has said: "We don't worry about other peoples' internal affairs. We don't bother about their governments, the irregularities that occur in their elections. They hold their elections their own way.

"Let them see how we hold our elections and recognize that we determined the future of our country, we are the government here and we don't want any interference from outside."

Economists paint a picture of doom and gloom in Zimbabwe. The country's economy is in a tailspin, the currency in a free fall and unemployment at an all-time high. A country that used to export crops is now dependent on food aid.

Yet at every campaign stop, Mugabe tells his attentive audience that Zimbabwe does not need handouts from anyone.

"We have enough resources in the country to look after our people in times of hunger and in times when they have plenty. We can do that. We shall always be able to do it."

Mugabe says this year the country expects a bumper harvest.

But Tsvangirai said: "He's talking about a bumper harvest, I said he's also ignored the fact that he's created a bumper hunger in the country. The country is going to face a very serious food shortage."

Many people are skeptical that their vote will count for very much, and few observers expect these parliamentary elections to help resolve Zimbabwe's multiple crises.

"If Mugabe wins on Thursday, the fact of the matter is the international community is not going to quickly re-engage Zimbabwe. The domestic consensus that we're trying to muster will not emerge as quickly," Nkarogo said.

And there remains the question of Robert Mugabe's intentions. His once well-disciplined party is split, and he has another three years of his presidential mandate to run.

Will he try to bow out gracefully as the father of the nation, or will he remain defiant to the end?

© MBM

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Zimbabwe's Mugabe Evolves Into Tyrant
Tue Mar 29, 5:00 AM ET
By TERRY LEONARD, Associated Press Writer


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - For a time Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was one of the great hopes for the future of Africa. He was seen as intellectual, astute, pragmatic and open to reconciliation after years of bitter revolutionary struggle.

Decades after coming to power, at the helm of a country sinking in despair, he has become a tyrant instead of a liberator, critics say. Instead of reconciliation, he threatens any who dare challenge him.

"We must be on our guard. Our survival is an ongoing war," Mugabe told supporters after his narrow 2002 re-election, a vote observers say was rigged.

On Thursday Zimbabweans go to the polls to elect a new parliament, but it is their 81-year-old president who is the issue.

Opposition candidates paint the election as a referendum on years of repression and misrule. Mugabe, campaigning for his ZANU-PF party, casts himself as the defender of Africans against neocolonialist plotting.

When he came to power with the country's independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe was hailed abroad as a model freedom fighter turned statesman.

A quarter of a century later, Zimbabwe is teetering on the edge of economic collapse. Freedom of the press, of expression and association have been outlawed. The government is accused of massive human rights abuses. Even food aid has become a political weapon.

Critics say Mugabe is a proud man embittered by his loss of stature in Africa. Mugabe has been overshadowed as an African statesman by South African President Nelson Mandela.

Mugabe rose from poverty to become a school teacher, a Marxist freedom fighter and finally the enormously wealthy president of an impoverished nation.

He was a shy, bookish boy who began his education at a Jesuit mission school and finished with a string of degrees. But after years in the struggle and a decade in prison without trial, Mugabe learned to be tough.

After his last re-election, Mugabe warned opponents not to be misled by his reputation as an ascetic intellectual and academic.

"I have many degrees in violence," Mugabe said.

Those close to Mugabe say that after independence he never forgave the country's whites, even as he spoke of reconciliation.

Today whites control a share of Zimbabwe's collapsing economy far greater than their numbers "” less than half of one percent of the population. In return, Mugabe gives them a disproportionate share of the blame for Zimbabwe's woes.

"Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy," Mugabe once told a party congress.

"Zimbabwe," he said later, "is for black people, not white people."

Mugabe says any thought of reconciliation has passed.

"We offered them (whites) the hand of reconciliation but they spurned it," he said after retaining power in 2002. Then he warned that now "we might not be so magnanimous to those who fight against us."

Mugabe launched an often-violent campaign to redistribute white-owned farms to black Zimbabweans in an apparent bid to rally support after the opposition made a strong showing in the last parliamentary elections, in 2000.

Mugabe is at his most combative when responding to criticism from Britain and the United States. It gives him the chance to bolster his popularity on a continent still suspicious of the West.

"No one should teach us about democracy and human rights. There were none until we fought for them," Mugabe said when Britain criticized his government after an earlier election.

No one in Britain, he said, could teach Zimbabwe about democracy. "We taught them through the barrel of the gun how to be democratic," he said.

"Colonizers for decades trampled on us," he said recently. "What have they to teach us about human rights?"

African leaders aren't spared. Responding to criticism from The Rev. Pius Ncube, the outspoken archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, Mugabe called him an "unholy man" who tells "lies all the day, every day."

In an interview last year with Sky News TV, Mugabe attacked Archbishop Desmond Tutu when the retired South African cleric and Nobel Peace Laureate called on African leaders to stand up to Mugabe, who he said had become a "cartoon character of an arch-typical African dictator."

"He is an angry, evil and embittered little bishop, you see, who thinks that his own view should hold," said Mugabe.
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
Zimbabwe's Mugabe Evolves Into Tyrant
Tue Mar 29, 5:00 AM ET
By TERRY LEONARD, Associated Press Writer


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - For a time Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was one of the great hopes for the future of Africa. He was seen as intellectual, astute, pragmatic and open to reconciliation after years of bitter revolutionary struggle.

Decades after coming to power, at the helm of a country sinking in despair, he has become a tyrant instead of a liberator, critics say. Instead of reconciliation, he threatens any who dare challenge him.

"We must be on our guard. Our survival is an ongoing war," Mugabe told supporters after his narrow 2002 re-election, a vote observers say was rigged.

On Thursday Zimbabweans go to the polls to elect a new parliament, but it is their 81-year-old president who is the issue.

Opposition candidates paint the election as a referendum on years of repression and misrule. Mugabe, campaigning for his ZANU-PF party, casts himself as the defender of Africans against neocolonialist plotting.

When he came to power with the country's independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe was hailed abroad as a model freedom fighter turned statesman.

A quarter of a century later, Zimbabwe is teetering on the edge of economic collapse. Freedom of the press, of expression and association have been outlawed. The government is accused of massive human rights abuses. Even food aid has become a political weapon.

Critics say Mugabe is a proud man embittered by his loss of stature in Africa. Mugabe has been overshadowed as an African statesman by South African President Nelson Mandela.

Mugabe rose from poverty to become a school teacher, a Marxist freedom fighter and finally the enormously wealthy president of an impoverished nation.

He was a shy, bookish boy who began his education at a Jesuit mission school and finished with a string of degrees. But after years in the struggle and a decade in prison without trial, Mugabe learned to be tough.

After his last re-election, Mugabe warned opponents not to be misled by his reputation as an ascetic intellectual and academic.

"I have many degrees in violence," Mugabe said.

Those close to Mugabe say that after independence he never forgave the country's whites, even as he spoke of reconciliation.

Today whites control a share of Zimbabwe's collapsing economy far greater than their numbers "” less than half of one percent of the population. In return, Mugabe gives them a disproportionate share of the blame for Zimbabwe's woes.

"Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy," Mugabe once told a party congress.

"Zimbabwe," he said later, "is for black people, not white people."

Mugabe says any thought of reconciliation has passed.

"We offered them (whites) the hand of reconciliation but they spurned it," he said after retaining power in 2002. Then he warned that now "we might not be so magnanimous to those who fight against us."

Mugabe launched an often-violent campaign to redistribute white-owned farms to black Zimbabweans in an apparent bid to rally support after the opposition made a strong showing in the last parliamentary elections, in 2000.

Mugabe is at his most combative when responding to criticism from Britain and the United States. It gives him the chance to bolster his popularity on a continent still suspicious of the West.

"No one should teach us about democracy and human rights. There were none until we fought for them," Mugabe said when Britain criticized his government after an earlier election.

No one in Britain, he said, could teach Zimbabwe about democracy. "We taught them through the barrel of the gun how to be democratic," he said.

"Colonizers for decades trampled on us," he said recently. "What have they to teach us about human rights?"

African leaders aren't spared. Responding to criticism from The Rev. Pius Ncube, the outspoken archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, Mugabe called him an "unholy man" who tells "lies all the day, every day."

In an interview last year with Sky News TV, Mugabe attacked Archbishop Desmond Tutu when the retired South African cleric and Nobel Peace Laureate called on African leaders to stand up to Mugabe, who he said had become a "cartoon character of an arch-typical African dictator."

"He is an angry, evil and embittered little bishop, you see, who thinks that his own view should hold," said Mugabe.


What's ironic is that this article made Mugabe look good. If the news people of JOHANNESBURG think they are going to score points with Africans by saying Mugabe has issues with whites owning AFRICAN land...they have their heads up their ars. But then again...I have a nagging feeling African people were not their target audience..."TERRY LEONARD" is not an African name... His perspective is OBVIOUS..he forgot to mention the SANCTIONS on Zimbabwe and IMF dealings that caused the country's economic collapse.

I have my issues with Mugabe...but what always trips me out about the Western or Western backed media is how they never mention how Mugabe killed 30,000 Mdabele after the Chimeranga wars as retribuution for some of that tribe being traitors. The Ndebele are basically the Zulu people who moved up North into what is now Known as Zimbabwe fleeing Shaka Zulu's consolidation of their tribe into the Zulu nation. These S.A. farts don't think they could get tribal sympathies from the massive Zulu population by mentioning their 'cousins' slaughter? The Shona and Ndabele still don't get along. The Ndebele are still oppressed in Zim. Or is it they don't care about African people, and just really want to critisize him based on the Western interests... still crying over the land the Brittish commenwealth lost control of... Worrying about a few fromer Rhodesians who didn't want to give back some of their land when they could and subsequently got their asses whooped(poor babies!) Their motivations are so obvious with what they do and do not harp on.
Mugabe fights Blair in Zimbabwe elections campaign:

Monday, March 28, 2005


[Africa News] HARARE - He has met him only once, eight years ago, but for President Robert Mugabe, Tony Blair is the bane of Zimbabwe's existence and the man to beat in key elections on Thursday.

Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party is seeking to clinch a two-thirds majority in this week's parliamentary elections by waging an unabashedly "anti-Blair campaign" loaded with slogans that call on Zimbabweans to "bury Blair" at the ballot box.

A call to vote against the British prime minister in Zimbabwe is code for rejecting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that Mugabe claims is a puppet of the British government, which he accuses of trying to reassert influence over former colonial Rhodesia.



"Mr Blair should be taught that every inch of Zimbabwe, including its fauna and flora, belongs to Zimbabweans," Mugabe told a rally last week. "This country is for blacks. It belongs to us."

But Zimbabweans struggling with hyperinflation, currency collapse and high unemployment say they harbour no resentment against Blair.

"Tony Blair is not our president, Robert Mugabe is our president. If he is failing us that is not Blair's doing because he is not our president," says Gift, a 36-year-old miner, at a grocery store in Harare.



"He's just a scapegoat," says a 50-year-old doctor who declined to give his name. "The real issue is not Blair, but survival."

Full-page ads in newspapers calling on Zimbaweans to "bury Blair, vote ZANU-PF" provide a list of what the "anti-Blair campaign" means including "getting back your land, an end to racist factory closures and no disruption to fuel supplies" among other demands.

Zimbabwean musician Last Chiyangwa, also known as Tambaoga, can be heard in ZANU-PF campaign jingles singing "the Blair I know is a toilet" - referring to a system of outhouses in the countryside whose architect was called Blair.



Mugabe has met with Blair only once, in 1997 soon after the Labour leader was elected in Britain, on the sidelines of a meeting of the Commonwealth club of former colonies in Edinburgh, Scotland.

"It was their only meaningful meeting," says Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba, although the two leaders have since found themselves in the same room during international meetings and kept each other at safe distance.

The MDC has dimissed Mugabe's rhetoric as a sideshow distraction.

http://www.keralanext.com/news/indexread.asp?id=165211

Add Reply

Post
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×