Foreign Policy Blogs

Time for Mugabe to go


Zimbabwe can ill afford another 5 years under Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe can ill afford another 5 years under Robert Mugabe.

The violent, mismanaged and tyrannical rule of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe must end. As the opposition parties in the country unite to dig their heels in bracing to defend against another example of the blatant and rampant corruption that has engulfed Mugabe’s reign, which has lasted more than three decades since the country’s independence in 1980, Mugabe prepares to fight back with the arsenal that has kept one of the worst regimes in modern history afloat for so long.

As a revolutionary leader in the 1960s and 1970s, Mugabe made a name for himself as a hero, fighting brutal white minority rule to achieve Zimbabwean independence. However, Mugabe’s meteoric rise to prominence and power can only be matched by the consistent inconsistencies in his policy and doctrine, as well as a series of blunders that has crippled a once thriving economy into one of the poorest on earth. Now, the country has an estimated unemployment rate hovering over 90 percent — the highest in the world — and the national currency has collapsed due to hyper-inflation, forcing the country to adopt the U.S. dollar for its currency since 2009. The result is a multitude of people on the brink of starvation due to Mugabe’s failure to grasp the intricacies of modern economics. When inflation rates reached 100,000 percent he claimed that countries could not go bankrupt and blamed the state of the national economy on a Western plot backed by the United Kingdom.

One of Mugabe’s more infamous moves was in 2002 when he backed a land acquisition law that seized property from white farmers and turned it over to black citizens. Despite the intentions of giving the land back to the black majority that had been oppressed since colonialism, the idea back fired and sent the country into a crippling recession, one that they have yet to emerge from.

In addition, Mugabe has consistently backed policies that limit freedoms, creating laws to control speech, media and limit labor rights, while baffling his so-called constituency with brutal policies, like his clean-up program that razed thousands of urban structures considered illegal and left an estimated 700,000 people homeless as their dwellings were destroyed.

However, despite all of this, Mugabe has managed to outmaneuver the opposition time and again to maintain the stranglehold he has on the country.

Despite losing several times in referendum  and presidential elections, Mugabe has always managed to emerge victorious through rigged elections, intimidation, trumped up charges against the opposition and power-sharing deals. His alliance with the security forces and his control over his personal militia has allowed him to unleash his minions at key times when it appeared as if his power was waning. His constant political opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been arrested multiple times on treason charges, hospitalized during protests and forced out of elections at the last minute due to threats from Mugabe’s cronies. Despite all of this, he remains the oppositional leader and is now prime minister of the country in a power-sharing deal that was struck in 2009.

Now, Mugabe, the old political strategist, has utilized his immense power to influence the constitutional court to rule in his favor once again. As elections are due for this year, Mugabe had the court rule to move elections up to the end of July, a strategy that favors his campaign greatly as the election registration is in shambles, leaving little time for the opposition to rally its supporters to challenge Mugabe. This move however, has united the opposition and if they can counteract this move, then they may have a chance to oust Mugabe from power. The opposition, accustomed to Mugabe’s violent election tactics have also demanded that the security sector comply with the new constitution and remain neutral. This seems unlikely, especially if a push is made to challenge Mugabe’s authority.

The time for the opposition to unite in an effort to oust the old man has come. They need to set aside any divisions for the greater good of the people and assure that Mugabe does not extend his rule for another five years. The problem is that any unification or threatening opposition must be prepared to combat the violent tactics that are sure to follow. Zimbabwe was once a model for sub-Saharan African development, but has now been reduced to shambles due to Mugabe and his associates, any alternative should have a positive impact on reversing the corrupt and oppressive policies so common during his tenure. Another successful election only extends the suffering of the people.

While this sentiment seems obvious, it will definitely be difficult to execute. Mugabe has not survived this long without becoming a master or political posturing and maneuvering. At 89 years old, many wonder why Mugabe does not simply step aside and enjoy a quiet retirement. However, he seems resolved to fight until his “revolution” is complete. He once famously stated that “only God” could remove him from office. Well, it is time for the man upstairs to fulfill that prophecy.



Daniel Donovan

Daniel is the Executive Director of a non-profit development organization that focuses on building infrastructure and training in rural Sub-Saharan Africa called the African Community Advancement Initiative ( . He has a Master's degree graduate in International Relations with an emphasis on conflict resolution and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Coupled with his extensive financial background, Daniel also works as a consultant for Consultancy Africa Intelligence in Pretoria and the Centre for Global Governance and Public Policy in Abu Dhabi. In addition to his work at FPA, he is also a regular contributor to The Continent Observer and International Policy Digest. He currently resides in Denver, CO.