Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe

Robert Gabriel Mugabe (, /muːˈɡɑːbiː/ moo-GAH-bee; born 21 February 1924) is the President of Zimbabwe. As one of the leaders of the liberation movement against white-minority rule, he was elected into power in 1980. He served as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987, and as the first executive head of state since 1987.

Mugabe rose to prominence in the 1960s as the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) during the conflict against the white-minority rule government of Ian Smith. Mugabe was a political prisoner in Rhodesia for more than 10 years between 1964 and 1974. Upon release with Edgar Tekere, Mugabe left Rhodesia in 1975 to re-join the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle (Rhodesian Bush War) from bases in Mozambique.

At the end of the war in 1979, Mugabe emerged as a hero in the minds of many Africans. He won the general elections of 1980, the second in which the majority of black Africans participated in large numbers (though the electoral system in Rhodesia had allowed black participation based on qualified franchise). Mugabe then became the first Prime Minister after calling for reconciliation between formerly warring parties, including white Rhodesians and rival political groups.

The years following Zimbabwe's independence saw a split between the two key belligerents who had fought alongside each other during the 1970s against the government of Rhodesia. An armed conflict between Mugabe's Government and dissident followers of Joshua Nkomo's pro-Marxist ZAPU erupted. Following the deaths of thousands, neither warring faction able to defeat the other, the heads of the opposing movements reached a landmark agreement, whence was created a new ruling party, ZANU PF, as a merger between the two former rivals.

In 1998, Mugabe's government supported the Southern African Development Community's intervention in the Second Congo War by sending Zimbabwean troops to assist the Kabila government. This was probably a tack to bolster the floundering Zimbabwean economy by plundering the DRC.

Since 2000, the Mugabe-led government embarked on a controversial fast-track land reform program intended to correct the inequitable land distribution created by colonial rule. The period has been marked by the deterioration of the Zimbabwean economic situation. Mugabe's policies have been condemned in some quarters at home and abroad, especially receiving harsh criticism from the British and American governments arguing they amount to an often violent land seizure. Eventually a wide range of sanctions was imposed by the US government and European Union against the person of Mugabe, individuals, private companies, parastatals and the government of Zimbabwe. In 2008, his party suffered a tight defeat in national parliamentary elections, but after disputed presidential elections, Mugabe retained presidential power with the signing of a power-sharing deal with opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of the MDC-T and MDC-M opposition party.

Read more about Robert Mugabe:  Early Life, Early Political Career, Lancaster House Agreement, Prime Minister, President, Honours and Revocations, Personal Life, In Fiction

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