The Rest

Nov 16, 2017

A brief history of Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s fallen dictator

The Zimbabwean coup was triggered by army commander General Constantine Chiwenga threatening on Monday to "step in" to calm recent political tensions.

Professor Damien Kingsbury

Crikey international affairs commentator

According to army spokesman Major General Sibusiso Moyo, the Zimbabwean army took over the state broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) early yesterday morning to read out a statement denying there had been a military coup. In classic military coup double-speak, what had happened was there had been a "bloodless peaceful transition" of power.

Moyo said that the military crack-down underway was targeting "criminals" around Mugabe. Moya added that "as soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy". This, presumably, means that Mugabe will ‘resign’ as President and allow the army-friendly former Vice-President Mnangagwa to assume the presidency.

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7 thoughts on “A brief history of Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s fallen dictator

  1. je ba

    If you are going the ethnic description route then please get it right. ZANU overwhelmingly Shona. ZAPU base was in Ndebele speaking country.

    1. kyle Hargraves

      Its not at all obvious, at least not to me, as to whom this observation might be directed. Nevertheless the author makes a sound point. Analytic biography and autobiography of the region from the 1840s to the 1950s discusses the tribalism is extensive detail and the subsequent effects that “tribalism” had on government administration of hospitals or any form of infrastructure extending to domestic service.

      Indeed the tribalism is responsible, in very large measure, for the economic inefficiencies that compromise every country in the continent (with minor exceptions such as Botswana – but to no great extent). The tribalism and the birth rates of circa 4.x% are destined to make the entire continent uninhabitable and hence ungovernable by the middle of the century.

      For those who don’t care for the conclusion I invite such people to compare any country in Africa (but it will be more instructive to select a country from Niger or Chad or Sudan or any country south of these countries) and compare the birth rate with a country in Europe that has an equivalent current population. Applying the compound interest formula (from school) the net population may be easily determined for 2060 or whatever year for either country.
      [A good exercise for a 1st or 2nd yr Economics student]

      Speaking for myself I was “going” the “thumb-nail historical description route”

  2. Woopwoop

    An interesting but depressing read.
    Once again, Zimbabwe shows that a democracy can’t function without solid institutions and a widely shared belief in them.

  3. AR

    As W/W said, interesting but depressing reading.
    I’d lost hope for Zimbabwe decades ago so let us hope for some sort of dawn.

  4. kyle Hargraves

    For the purpose of keeping it, moderately, brief suffice to say that no one in the region considered rule under Mugabe to be in any way superior (by any criterion) than government under Ian Smith. The deficiency of the article by Professor Kingsbury resides not with the criticism of Mugabe (as somehow being the sole cause) but with the absence of reference to the sequence of events from c. 1960 to 1979; conditions that deliberately compromised the wellbeing of Rhodesia by successive British governments.

    Smith was the first (and one might say in hindsight the only) Rhodesian PM to be appointed after a parliamentary vote of no confidence in then PM Mr Field in March 1964. As an aside Smith was deputy to Field. From then on it was “up hill” for Smith’s government. The then British PM, Harold Wilson, did all he could to distabilise Smith and Rhodesia as a country. Smith was specifically excluded from the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in 1964 and subsequently. Then there were incessant trade sanctions imposed by Britain applying to everything from soap and razor blades to pharmaceuticals.

    The British High Commissioner to Rhodesia refused to meet Smith upon Smith’s appointment; by Parliament incidentally! I think that may have been a good time to expel the High Commissioner. Moreover, Smith declared his policies in full-page statements in newspapers and observed every policy. The observance of every stated policy is no longer observable within any country of the Commonwealth nowadays. Smith also made a point of declaring when he was leaving the country and when he was returning to Rhodesia. In terms of war service he was an accomplished fighter pilot for the RAF. Rhodesia, as country, snapped out of it in 1968 (changed flag etc.) but it was all a bit “too late”.

    Rhodesia obtained Responsible Government from Britain in 1923 and thereafter did have a literacy suffrage. However, the governments of Smith (and Field) were democracies (and hence the justification for the first sentence of the second paragraph). The pretense was over by 1987 when Smith ceased to be leader of the Opposition. Notwithstanding the meddling by Mugabe in the region in regard to other countries – a feature which contributed to the ten year period of inflation and subsequently, hyper inflation; another was the confiscation of private property from whites – and the visits by personages such as the Archbishop of Canterbury the country under Mugabe was never a “going concern” . As an aside, not at any time did a British government deem it necessary to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe for the abuses of Mugabe’s government that, inter alia, effected the hyper inflation.

    It’s a pity that Smith died a decade ago; he would, I think, liked to have seen this result – which won’t mean a lot to anyone under 50 years of age.

  5. Wayne Robinson

    I’d suggest June 26 as a suitable date for Australia Day, commemorating the arrival of the Second Fleet (which straggled in over a period of days and weeks as a reasonable average of its arrival).

    The Second Fleet reflects Australian values better than that of the First Fleet. Celebrating the Second Fleet reflects Australian values of praising coming second, valuing failure and disaster more than success (think ANZAC Day) and thinking that private enterprise can do everything better and cheaper than government (the Second Fleet was commissioned to private enterprises, including slave traders, and resulted in convicts arriving in such poor condition it almost resulted in failure of the penal colony).

  6. Nova986

    What changes in the social and economic predicament of so many Indigenous people if the Australia Day date changes?

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