Zimbabwe’s father, Robert Mugabe dies at 95

 The Zimbabwean independence icon Robert Mugabe has died today September 6, 2019, at age 95.

The Ex-President had been receiving treatment in a hospital in Singapore since April. He was ousted in a military coup in 2017 after 37 years in power. 

Mr. Mugabe will forever be praised for broadening access to health and education for the black majority.

Singapore’s foreign ministry said it was working with the Zimbabwean embassy there to have Mr. Mugabe’s body flown back to his home country.

 Robert Mugabe was born on 21st of February, 1924 in Rhodesia which is now known as Zimbabwe. Then, it was a British colony that was run by its white minority.

 He was imprisoned in 1964 for more than a decade without trial after criticizing the government of Rhodesia.

 In 1973, while he was still in prison, he was chosen as president of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), of which he was a founding member.

 During the time he spent in prison, he gained several further degrees from the University of London, Masters in Economics, a Bachelor of Administration, and two law degrees.

 While imprisoned, Mugabe got the news that his three-year-old son had died of encephalitis. He was grief-stricken and requested a leave of absence to visit his wife but his leave was denied and he never forgave the prison authorities for refusing his request. 

After he was released, he headed to Mozambique. From there, he directed guerrilla raids into Rhodesia, but he was also seen as a skilled negotiator. Mugabe remained in exile there for two years.

 Mugabe traveled to various Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) camps in Mozambique to build support among its officers and by mid-1976, he had secured the allegiance of ZANLA’s military commanders and established himself as the most prominent guerrilla leader battling the white’s regime.

 During the war, Mugabe remained suspicious of many of ZANLA’s commanders and had a number of them imprisoned.

Mugabe remained distant from the day-to-day military operations of ZANLA, which he entrusted to Josiah Tongogara. In January 1976, ZANLA launched its first major infiltration from Mozambique, with nearly 1,000 guerrillas crossing the border to attack white-owned farms and stores. In response, Smith’s government enlisted all men under the age of 35, expanding the Rhodesian army by 50%.

 ZANLA’s attacks forced large numbers of white landowners to abandon their farms; their now-unemployed black workers joined ZANLA in their thousands.

Throughout the war, at least 30,000 people were killed. As a proportion of their wider population, the whites had a higher number of fatalities, and the guerrillas were winning.

 Mugabe focused on the propaganda war and made regular speeches and radio broadcasts. In these, he presented himself as a Marxist-Leninist, but despite his Marxist views, the Ex-president’s meetings with Soviet representatives were unproductive.

 Although, his relationship with the People’s Republic of China was far warmer, the Chinese Marxist government-supplied ZANLA with armaments without any conditions. He also sought support from western nations, visited western embassies in Mozambique, and traveled to both Western states like Italy and Switzerland and Marxist-governed states like the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba.

 Mugabe called for the overthrow of Rhodesia’s predominantly white government, the execution of Smith and his “criminal gang”, the expropriation of white-owned land, and the transformation of Rhodesia into a one-party Marxist state. He repeatedly called for violence against the country’s white minority and referred the white Rhodesians as “blood-sucking exploiters”, “sadistic killers”, and “hard-core racists”.

 In October 1976, ZANU nevertheless established a joint-platform with ZAPU known as the Patriotic Front. In September 1978, Mugabe met with Nkomo in Lusaka. He was angry with the latter’s secret attempts to negotiate with Smith. 

In 1979, the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher surprised delegates at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting by announcing that the UK would officially recognize the country’s independence if it transitioned to democratic majority rule.

The negotiations took place at Lancaster House in London and were led by the Conservative Party politician, Peter Carington. Although, Mugabe refused to attend the London peace talks, opposing the idea of a negotiation rather than a military solution to the Rhodesian War.

 But Mozambique President, Samora Machel insisted that he must and threatened to end his country’s support for the ZANU-PF if he did not.

Mugabe arrived in London on September 1979. There, he and Nkomo presented themselves as part of the “Patriotic Front”, but established separate headquarters in the city.

The Lancaster House Agreement called for all participants in the Rhodesian Bush War to agree to a ceasefire. A British governor, Christopher Soames, arrived in Rhodesia to oversee an election in which the various factions could compete as political parties.

It outlined a plan for a transition to formal independence as a sovereign republic under the black-majority rule. The plan also maintained that Rhodesia would be renamed Zimbabwe. The agreement also ensured that the country’s white minority retained many of its economic and political privileges, with 20 seats to be reserved for whites in the new Parliament.

Mugabe agreed to the protection of the white community’s privately owned property on the condition that the UK and US governments provide financial assistance allowing the Zimbabwean government to purchase much land for redistribution among blacks. He signed the agreement but felt cheated as he remained disappointed that he never achieved a military victory over the Rhodesian forces.

With his high profile in the independence movement, Mr. Mugabe secured an overwhelming victory in the republic’s first election in 1980.

The Ex-President embodied Africa’s struggle against colonialism in all its fury and its failings. Mr. Mugabe was a courageous politician who was imprisoned for daring to defy the white-minority rule. 

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He finally led the country to independence and he was one of the continent’s most promising. For years under his tenure, Zimbabwe flourished.