|Robert Mugabe - Zimbabwean President|
Robert Mugabe was educated in mission schools and earned a degree in higher education from Fort Hare University in South Africa. As a young man, he joined the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) with Joshua Nkomo, but split off to form the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which led a guerrilla warfare struggle against the white-dominated Ian Smith regime in Rhodesia.
After protracted negotiations with Great Britain, Zimbabwe finally attained full independence under a one-person, one-vote rubric in 1979. Mugabe initially led a coalition government with his rival Nkomo, but gradually evolved a one-party state under his sole rule.
In the 1980s Mugabe was hailed as an African statesman by Western governments. Zimbabwe had a biracial government and made economic progress; Mugabe’s regime also was successful in raising educational levels for boys and girls, with one of the highest literacy rates in Africa.
In the 1990s Mugabe became increasingly dictatorial and refused to cede power even in face of the 2000 elections, when the opposition electoral vote was clearly the majority. Amid widespread charges of corruption and vote rigging, Mugabe’s ZANU party declared victory in the spring 2005 elections.
Mugabe also retained the right personally to select two dozen members of parliament. He also ordered the confiscation of white-owned land that was then distributed to his supporters. On the pretext of urban renewal, he also tore down urban shanty towns that were centers of political opposition to his regime.
The resultant political crisis contributed to economic chaos and declining productivity as well as wide-spread condemnation from European nations, but, in spite of his advanced age, Mugabe announced his determination to remain in power, despite on apparent victory by the opposition in the national March 29, 2008, elections.