Mugabe uses State machinery especially his brutal police force, to systematically thwart any form of protests or complaints. It is on record that journalists working for the Opposition have been jailed and media houses attacked, whenever they portray his government negatively. Mugabe always claims the Opposition members seek sympathy from the West, when they are featured in the media talking about their woes.
Some Africans support President Mugabe for having “chased away” white landowners in Zimbabwe, in the early 2000s. They also see him as the only African hero who hurls insults to political leaders of the West and condemns imperialism. However, others feel that African leaders should denounce Mugabe’s actions. South Africa’s position of “quiet diplomacy” (read non-interference), has not helped either. It is felt that being an economic and political powerhouse in southern Africa, South Africa should step in and actively criticize Mugabe.
Corruption, greed and opulence
In 2003, Mugabe commissioned the building of his ‘retirement’ home at the cost of 72 million South African rand (almost 10 million dollars), while the country’s inflation was at 399.5% and fuel prices had increased by 500%. On August 31, 2003, the South African Sunday Times newspaper analyzed the country’s crisis, predicting that inflation would soon hit 1000%. By March 2007 it was 1700%, the highest in the world. By 2003 Mugabe had earned less than 1 million dollars during his 23 years of leadership. People therefore questioned how he had acquired millions of dollars to build his new 25-bedroom home. It is not certain he will retire; he plans to remain in power. The Sunday Times added that Mugabe’s (current) second wife had earlier built herself a mansion with money set aside to assist poorly paid civil servants. After a lot of criticism, the property was sold to the Libyan Embassy in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe the perpetrator
In the 1980s, Mugabe ordered the massacre of the minority Matabele people in his country, which cost around 20,000 lives. He was then a darling of the West and the British (Tory government) even sold him weapons. This terror was not widely publicized because it was insignificant to his successes, which had impressed the West. After all, the massacre was on the blacks and not whites.
In the 1990s, Mugabe, just like some of his African dictators, felt the multiparty political heat which swept across Africa. He has since used all available means to thwart it. He has repeatedly used State machinery to rig the elections and remain in power. His misrule has earned him a travel ban to the West and economic sanctions. Currently, thousands of Zimbabweans suffer from malnutrition and lack of basic health provisions, among others.
In 2005, Mugabe launched the controversial anti-human program called “Operation Restore Order”, to demolish informal settlements (slums) in urban areas, in order to improve security. This exercise left thousands of poor people homeless and jobless. Some might have died from lack of access to medication; one child was crashed to death by a bulldozer. The United Nations made a comprehensive report about this and estimated that 2.4 million had been affected. It is instrumental to note that slum dwellers comprise the majority of opposition voters; they pose a threat to Mugabe’s regime. Zimbabwe is heading for a second liberation, with or without Dictator Mugabe.