Mugabe’s legacy of poverty and despair
On 17 April 1980, President Robert Mugabe addressed a euphoric crowd in the soon-to-be-independent Zimbabwe.
In the aftermath of a long and brutal liberation struggle against white minority rule, Mugabe seemed to publicly embrace the ideals of peace and reconciliation.
By becoming Zimbabwe’s leader, he ostensibly vanquished the ugly spectre of colonialism and racism that had defined the country formerly known as Rhodesia, and entered office buoyed by a wave of international fanfare and support.
It was in this context, on the eve of Zimbabwe’s independence, that Mugabe declared:
“Democracy is never mob rule … Our independence must thus not be construed as an instrument vesting individuals or groups with the right to harass and intimidate others … Our new nation requires … a new spirit that must unite and not divide.”
This hopeful rhetoric would almost immediately ring hollow.
By July, a state…
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