Robert Mugabe is a Zimbabwean groundbreaking political figure who became and still remains the President of Zimbabwe. He was one of the few figures in Africa who opposed white minority rule. Through his emerging political campaign, he became one of the leaders of the rebel groups and was consequently elected Prime Minister and head of government, in 1980. His tenure lasted until 1987 and then became Zimbabwe's initial executive head of state. He was re-elected several times even now and continues serving under this position. Additionally, Mugabe has led the Zimbabwe African National Union -- Patriotic Front ever since 1975. (Thesis) Because of his long and successful political career, including his Marxist mentality, many would see Mugabe as a terrible dictator who led a semi-prosperous nation to near ruin. When looking at Mugabe as a dictator, it is important to see where it all originated to understand his motives and how his ultimate vision for the country could have changed since then, resulting in what Zimbabwe is now.
Robert Mugabe climbed to distinction during the 1960s when he assumed the position of Secretary General of ZANU during the struggle against the conformist white minority government of Rhodesia. From 1964 to 1974, Mugabe was a political prisoner in the country of and upon discharge decided to and return to battle during the Rhodesian Bush War from centers in Mozambique. Towards the war's conclusion in 1979, numerous Africans regarded Mugabe as a hero and this enabled him to win the general election of 1980. This was after calling for settlement between the anterior combatant, counting white Zimbabweans and competing political parties, and thus came to be in April 1980, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, on Zimbabwe's independence celebration. Robert Mugabe was prepped to become a dictator, even then. Surrounding the political climate under Robert Mugabe's rule was the aforementioned Rhodesian war. Taking a closer look behind the events of the war helps to see how Mugabe became such a trusted and admired leader.
By mid-1979, the Rhodesian war was at a military and political stalemate which both parties believing they could become the victor. With a stalemate, came different visions of an independent Rhodesia-Zimbabwe. This along with a progressively brutal civil war, led to British and American peace proposals. The titled: Owen-Vance plan was a concept proposed to the Rhodesian government in early fall of 1977. However, the key terms were deemed objectionable to the Rhodesian Cabinet. [footnoteRef:1]The context surrounding it was that the military leadership viewed the war unwinnable and wanted Britain to assume responsibility for the colony vs. The proposed alternative. These British labors to negotiate a partnership government for a self-governing Zimbabwe instead resuming responsibility for the colony, were intended to exclude the Marxist minded Robert Mugabe. Nevertheless, because the British initiative buckled in August of 1978, in part due to the Tanzanian President's (Julius Nyerere) opinionated antagonism when broadcast of Nkomo's conference with Ian Smith seeped out, Nkomo's readiness to partake in this British strategy produced an intense fissure in the Nationalistic Front, and produced Mugabe's eternal distrust, while the flooring of two Rhodesian Viscount civilian aircraft in September of 1978 and February of the following year by ZAPU, using innovative Soviet SAM artillery, guaranteed permanent Rhodesian abhorrence. [1: Archive. "Full text of "Southern Rhodesia 1890-1950; A Record of Sixty Years Progress." Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine. Accessed February 20, 2014. http://archive.org/stream/SouthernRhodesia1890-1950ARecordOfSixtyYearsProgress/SR9050_djvu.txt.]
By the summer, the newly united Rhodesian-Zimbabwean Government fell under substantial burden. As Mugabe comments to Zhivkov, white migration was certainly hastening, motivated by the hardships of the war and the postponement of national service, which was producing struggle on economic manufacture and movement. From there, white Rhodesians were being mandated to work 6 weeks in and 6 weeks out as well as extension of the call up range to 59 years of age. The white administrative and martial leadership continued to be unyielding that obligatory national service should not be protracted to black Rhodesians-Zimbabweans. Nevertheless, the Rhodesian state produced a strong military and demonstrated high military capability with the it being undefeated and almost succeeding in assassinating the ZAPU leader, Joshua Nkomo in Lusaka in his headquarters from April 12th to April 13th, 1979 mentions Bowyer in his book.[footnoteRef:2] Including the assassination attempt, was the resuming of external operations against ZANLA headquarters in Mozambique in June of 1979. Another primary document discussed the potential conflict between the ZANU and ZAPU if unity was not accomplished making it Mugabe's mission to generate a unified front. "The active interference of England in the affairs of Zambia may ensure the victory of the puppet government, which would possibly lead to a conflict between ZANU and ZAPU if the unity of their actions are not achieved, noted my interlocutor." [footnoteRef:3] [2: Petter-Bowyer, P.J.H. Winds of Destruction: The Autobiography of a Rhodesian Combat Pilot. Johannesburg: 30'? South Publishers, 2005.] [3: "Memorandum of Conversation between Minister-counselor of the Soviet Embassy in Havana M. Manasov and Cuban Communist Party CC member Raul Valdes Vivo, 7 May 1979" May 24, 1979, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, TsKhSD, f. 5, op. 76, d. 834, ll. 82-84 http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/11303]
In the primary source, the conversation of a declaration of a provisional government in Zimbabwe is deliberated. They proposed J. Nkomo for the position of president and R. Mugabe for the position of prime minister. The document also discusses the program policy of the temporary government and provides for the understanding of a progression of social-economic renovations, safeguarding the interests of those countries which distinguish its government and also guaranteeing the rights of the white Africans within the population. It also stated how Nkomo and Mugabe agreed to the plan including the leaders of the front-line states. The document went further to state the impermanent government, in the assessment of the Cuban side, would conceivably be acknowledged at first by thirty countries.[footnoteRef:4] [4: "Memorandum of Conversation between Minister-counselor of the Soviet Embassy in Havana M. Manasov and Cuban Communist Party CC member Raul Valdes Vivo, 7 May 1979," 82-84]
The events and information from the document then molded the immediate related dealings Robert Mugabe undertook during his visit to Sofia, July 29th, 1979. Comrade President, we are in Bulgaria to seek your solidarity and are driven by our wish to strengthen our friendship. We therefore feel obliged to tell you about the events, taking place in our region, so that all issues, concerning the situation, that I would like to put forth, may become clear; thus you will be able to make your conclusions about the opportunities available to respond to our request. Last year we told you our opinion of the following: whether the intentions of the English and the Americans will be realized; because then (last year) the English and the Americans were ready to give up/renounce their own proposals; and they actually did renounce them, claiming that an internal settlement of the crisis was better. Then they were getting ready to strengthen the union between Ian Smith and the marionettes Muzorewa, Chirau, against whom we were struggling. [footnoteRef:5] [5: "Minutes of Todor Zhivkov -- Robert Mugabe Conversation, Sofia" July 29, 1979, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Sofia, Fond 378-B, Record 1, File 523. Translated by Assistant Professor Kalina Bratanova; Edited by Dr. Jordan Baev and obtained by the Bulgarian Cold War Research Group. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111111]
In another document examining the political situation in Zimbabwe, the document mentions Mugabe's demeanor towards political leaders. Mugabe's well-mannered nature towards the Bulgarian leader contradicted the pressing want of his guerrilla association for considerable artillery, preparation and logistical backing, if it was to develop its movement outside the country areas.[footnoteRef:6] Mugabe demonstrated faith in military victory and perhaps that is why people regarded him as a great political figure in Zimbabwe and kept re-electing him. He persuaded and convinced people of a united and idealistic military front that would not only sustain independence in Zimbabwe, but also safeguard many aims and goals of several parties. [6: "Statements of Agostinho Neto, Samora Machel and Mengistu Haile Mariam on the Political Situation in Zimbabwe" October 16, 1978, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Sofia, Fond 378-B, Record 1, File 505. Obtained by the Bulgarian Cold War Research Group. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113583]
Examining the primary sources and some of the context surrounding the election of Mugabe, one can see why he became such a notable figure within the country and thusly elected prime minister. He provided people with a means for unification amidst such turbulent times as discussed by Shubin and convinced people of aiding Zimbabwe in its goal.[footnoteRef:7] He, although fought against a ruling white minority, was welcomed by the British and the United States as a legitimate figure head in Zimbabwe. And even when the economy of Zimbabwe declined throughout the 1990's he still presented a unified front by assisting the Congolese President Laurent Kabila. He became a highly visible political leader meeting with American presidents…