Robert Gabriel Mugabe, aka. "Comrade Bob" (born February 21, 1924) is the crazed dictator of Zimbabwe. A leader of the movement against white minority-rule, he became head of government when the country gained independence in 1980 in an imperfect (but not horrendous) general election.
At first, his economic policies led to reasonable growth rates and his policies massively decreased child malnutrition and infant mortality rates. In 1987, he became Head of State after the adoption of a constitutional amendment establishing an executive presidency, an institutional role created for him. Descending over decades from a democratically-elected leader to a mad tyrant, he began to chip away at democracy. The previous system of separate voting rolls for the black majority and ethnic minorities, seemingly a good measure in the near term, would eventually allow him to stop ethnic minorities from voting. He abolished the Senate, and increased the size of the lower house to include his appointees. Always having support in a single legislative chamber would, in the end, make him far more powerful than having two houses to control.
What motivates Mugabe? He consistently justifies his tyranny in terms of anti-colonialism and Pan-African nationalism. The answers that analysts offer range from his early years as a fatherless child doted on by his mother to his indoctrination in conservative Roman Catholicism and fear of prosecution.
 Human rights abuses
Amnesty International has condemned his brutal regime and his violent tactics. In his desperation to hang onto power, Mugabe jails or kills opposition politicians and human rights workers. There is a whole body of evidence pointing to extrajudicial executions and torture of journalists, opponents and activists. Opposition gatherings are frequently subject to brutal police attacks. Mugabe has cracked down on fair elections, with massive electoral fraud and violence against opponents.
From 2001 to 2006 the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has recorded 363 cases of torture, 516 cases of assault, 58 cases of death threats, 399 cases of unlawful arrest and 451 cases of unlawful detention, all by law enforcement bodies loyal to Mugabe. Many of these incidents include multiple victims. Since 1987, Mugabe has tightened laws against homosexuals - often making public speeches targeting gays as being "un-African" and "colonial." In September 1995, Zimbabwe's parliament passed legislation outlawing homosexual acts. The charge of sodomy is used to bring down political opponents including former president Canaan Banana in 1996, who ended up serving 10 years in prison. British gay activist Peter Tatchell, appalled at the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, attempted to make a citizen's arrest of Mugabe in Brussels in 2001 and was subsequently beaten up by Mugabe's bodyguards.
 Economic failure
Mugabe was incensed by the fact that huge parts of the nation were owned by white farmers, while the black majority were not significant landowners. In response to this, he began a "land reform" policy which involved seizing farms from white farmers and giving the land to his cronies. Unfortunately, it turned out that his cronies weren't qualified farmers. A country which once had a food surplus was soon plagued by violence and poverty, and facing a huge AIDS crisis with an estimated quarter of the population infected.
When the farms began to massively under-perform because of his policies, and with other areas of the economy performing poorly, Zimbabwe's tax receipts fell substantially. Instead of cutting spending, increasing taxes, cutting corruption or borrowing money, the Mugabe regime insisted on printing enough to meet their expenses. This, of course, made inflation spike. Rather than cut back on printing money, the state continued to do so, and instead put in place price controls, enforced by the police. Instead of keeping prices down, the police merely bought everything at the artificially low prices and resold it in the black market.
The currency is now essentially worthless, with an inflation rate calculated at 6+ sextillion (1021) percent.
 Current status
Zimbabwe's 2008 presidential election was an excellent example of how much control Mugabe has stolen in order to make himself president for life of Zimbabwe. Through power over the authorities and his heavy-handed political chicanery, the election became confusing and violent as people were arrested by the hundreds, and the opposing party was severely suppressed. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was forced to flee to the Dutch Embassy for a while because of the danger and confusion. In the end, Mugabe was sworn in as Zimbabwe's president for a sixth term, continuing his regime and effectively turning the election into a complete sham as there was no-one for him to run against.
Reaction has been muted. Most Western countries have condemned Mugabe's policies, but fear being too hard on him, since he is revered as an anti-imperialist hero by the other rulers in sub-Saharan Africa. At a July 2008 meeting of the African Union Mugabe was welcomed with the warmth to which he is accustomed.
 Social science irrationality
Mugabe is a prime example of how even social science laws cannot be flouted. The overall effects of supply and demand, along with inflation and price controls, are very well understood. Every economist could have told Mugabe that printing more money would lead to free-fall inflation; every economist could have told Mugabe that price controls would lead to shortages. (And every political scientist could have told him that, with the corruption endemic in the country, the police and government officials would have taken advantage of both.)
However, many still believe that economics and other social phenomena are not merely soft sciences, but pseudosciences that are entirely manipulable by a sufficiently dedicated hand. That Mugabe continues to blame Western imperialists, rather than his own insane policies, shows that he'll never believe reason. It must be understood that these laws are just as strong as the law of gravity.
 Blood diamonds
Mugabe and his family were implicated in a WikiLeaks document of profiting from the sale of "blood diamonds" from Zimbabwe. These blood diamonds, also called conflict diamonds, are being mined from the Marange fields in Zimbabwe, a mining site that lost its Kimberley Process (KP) certification in 2010 after reports of forced labour and other human rights violations reached the Israeli Diamond Exchange, the group that issues KP's. The WikiLeaks cable showed that Mugabe's family, were profiting from the smuggling, as well as a string of top officials in Mugabe's ZANU-PF party were named as active participants in the venture, paying for gems with freshly printed Zimbabwe dollars, and reselling them for more valued US dollars.
 International support
Tyranny and corruption mean fewer friends rather than no friends in international affairs. Beginning in 1981, advisers from the North Korean Army trained the Zimbabwe National Army's Fifth Brigade, which then conducted a series of massacres in Matabeleland from 1982-1985. Matabeleland is home to the Ndebele-speaking minority who have opposed Mugabe's ZANU in general elections. Mugabe was free to commit his crimes, in part, because of his friendship with South African President Thabo Mbeki. Unlike his predecessor, Nelson Mandela, Mbeki proved more of an African nationalist and thus more willing to indulge misrule In Zimbabwe. Recently, however, there are signs that Jacob Zuma, the current President of South Africa, is ready to distance Pretoria from Harare because of human rights violations and authoritarianism in Zimbabwe.
- ↑ Mugabe - In His Own Words. The Southern Times. June 20, 2011.
- ↑ Heidi Holland. 2008. Dinner with Mugabe: The Untold Story of a Freedom Fighter who Became a Tyrant. Penguin. ISBN 978-0143025573.
- ↑ John Hickman. With Too Many Explanations For Repression in Zimbabwe. Foreign Policy Association. June 11, 2011
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe.
- ↑ Well maybe not gravity, since that will remain whether or not people are there to attribute value to it. Still, you get the idea!
- ↑ Andrew Feinstein. 2009. After the Party. London: Verso. Pp. 103-110
- ↑ Celia W. Dugger. "Mugabe Faces pro-democracy Push From Powerful Neighbor, South Africa." The New York Times. June 11, 2011.