Robert Mugabe (1924-2019)
Robert Mugabe became the leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in 1975 – at the height of the National Liberation War against the racist and colonial regime of Rhodesia – eventually leading the organisation (and the people of Zimbabwe) to success and the establishment of a Government led by and comprising a majority of Black Zimbabweans.
In the 1970s and 80s he professed himself a Marxist-Leninist but as international pressures and economic difficulties increased during the 1990s his approach became more ‘pragmatic’ – although he always considered himself a socialist.
In many ways Mugabe was the only honourable participant in the Lancaster House Conference in late 1979. He accepted a disproportionate participation in the Parliament of the tiny white minority in order to undermine any arguments of the odious Ian Smith – the erstwhile Prime Minister of the renegade country since the 1960s . This agreement was due to last for ten years and probably one of Mubabe’s biggest mistakes was that he honoured that agreement.
If he had attacked white majority power during the 1980s, when there was definitely a revolutionary fervour in the country, Zimbabwe might had been more able to face the various ‘setbacks’ of the 1990s. These were a combination of events which, using the modern cliché, created a veritable ‘perfect storm’ for the country.
The events that hit the country included;
- droughts in the 1990s, which followed drought years in the 1980s,
- the collapse of the Soviet Union removed a potential, non-Western ally (although with conditions) from the equation,
- the refusal of the governments of the United Kingdom (both Conservative and Labour) to live up to their end of the bargain and provide assistance (including finance) for the white minority land (the very best, most fertile and most easily irrigated) to be transferred into the hands of black Zimbabwean farmers,
- a growing level of corruption at too many levels in the Party, Government and the country in general which were undermining any attempts to move forward without any interference from the past colonial ‘masters’,
- the efforts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) to force conditions upon any country receiving loans. This primarily manifested itself in the forced privatisation of national resources – a policy which was developed throughout the 1980s but which had become institutionalised by the 1990s. The fact that, throughout his time as Prime Minster/President, Mugabe refused to accept such conditions must always stand in his favour.
The documents below allow the reader to get an idea of how Mugabe thought during the time of the National Liberation War and the early years of the independent Zimbabwe.
Prime Minister opens Economic Conference, September 1, 1980, Harare, 1980, Government Printer, Harare, 1980, 6 pages.
PM’s New Year Message to the Nation, December 31, 1981, Policy Statement No 6, Government Printer, Harare, 1981, 9 pages.
PM opens Zimbabwe Conference on Reconstruction and Development (ZIMCORD), March 23, 1981, Government Printer, Harare, 11 pages.
Speech by the Honourable Prime Minister, Comrade R.G. Mugabe, at the 69th Session of the International Labour Organisation, Geneva Switzerland, June 15 1983, no publisher or publication date, 15 pages. (Apologies for the poor quality of the print.)
Prime Minister Addresses State Banquet in North Korea, October 9, 1980, Policy Statement No 1, Government Printer, Harare, 1985, 14 pages.
The Prime Minister’s speech in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, January 24, 1983, Policy Statement No 9, Harare, Government Printer, Harare, 1983, 6 pages.
The Prime Minister’s Speech to Ecclesiastical Leaders, April 5, 1983, Policy Statement No 11, Government Printer, Harare, 1983, 8 pages.
The President’s speech on the 3rd anniversary of Independence, April 18, 1983, Policy Statement No 10, Government Printers, Harare, 1983, 9 pages.
Our war of Liberation, Speeches, articles and interviews, 1976-1979, Mambo Press, Harare, 1983, 215 pages.
The Construction of Socialism in Zimbabwe, Prime Minister, July 9, 1984, Policy Statement No 14, Government Printers, Harare, 1984, 11 pages.
The President’s speech at the opening of the 1st session of the 2nd Parliament of Zimbabwe, July 23, 1985, Government Printers, Harare, 1985, 12 pages.
PM Mugabe’s address to the 40th Session of the UN General Assembly, October 7, 1985, Policy Statement No 16, Government Printer, Harare, 1985, 14 pages.
The President opens 2nd Session of 2nd Parliament, June 24, 1986, Policy Statement No 17, Government Printers, Harare, 1986, 13 pages.
Mugabe, a biography, David Smith and Colin Simpson with Ian Davies, Pioneer Head, Salisbury, 1981, 222 pages.