Robert Mugabe

2nd president of Zimbabwe from 1987 to 2017

Robert Gabriel Mugabe (21 February 19246 September 2019) was a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017. He served as Leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) from 1975 to 1980 and led its successor political party, the ZANU – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF), from 1980 to 2017. Ideologically an African nationalist, during the 1970s and 1980s he identified as a Marxist–Leninist, and as a socialist after the 1990s.

I am termed dictator because I have rejected this supremacist view and frustrated the neo-colonialists.



  • We are totally opposed to the concept of multi-racialism because it assumes in the first instance that people have got to be arranged in compartments based on colour... you have Europeans in one compartment, Asians and coloureds in two other compartments and Africans in another compartment... And immediately you talk of multi-racialism, you are accepting as a starting point that the races are different and this difference must be recognised. We are non-racialist in our approach and that everybody must be accorded his full political rights – whether he white or black, educated or uneducated, rich or poor. And this is why we are at the moment struggling to earn for our people one-man-one-vote.
  • Africa must revert to what it was before the imperialists divided it. These are artificial divisions which we, in our pan-African concept will seek to remove.
    • "African threat to ban Sir Roy Welensky", The Times, 10 April 1962, p. 10
    • Speech at a meeting in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, 9 April 1962.
  • It may be necessary to use methods other than constitutional ones.
    • "ZAPU deposes Mr. Nkomo as Leader", The Times, 9 July 1962, p. 9
    • Remarks to the press, 8 July 1962, concerning the future strategy of ZAPU in achieving majority rule.


Our votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we shall have, shall have been the product of the gun.
  • Our votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we shall have, shall have been the product of the gun. The gun which produces the vote should remain its security officer – its guarantor. The people's votes and the people's guns are always inseparable twins.
    • Martin Meredith, "Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe".
    • Said in 1976 while a leading commander of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army


Stay with us, please remain in this country and constitute a nation based on national unity.
  • Stay with us, please remain in this country and constitute a nation based on national unity.
    • BBC News 'On This Day'
    • A plea to the white population of Zimbabwe in a speech at a ZANU-PF rally, 27 January 1980.
  • It was from Tito that I drew inspiration while searching for the best road to take and when making crucial decisions during our liberation struggle. I often thought, what would Tito do at that moment?
    • Mugabe cited in: Jasper Ridley, Tito: A Biography (Constable and Company Ltd., 1994), p. 400.


  • We are still exchanging blows with the British government. They are using gay gangsters. Each time I pass through London, the gangster regime of Blair 'expresses its dismay'.
    • Chimaima Banda, "Gays seeking sexual asylum in South Africa", The Independent, 6 November 1999, p. 18.
    • A reference to an incident on 30 October 1999 when the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell attempted a citizen’s arrest on Mugabe during a visit to London.



Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy!
  • It was an act of madness. We killed each other and destroyed each other's property. It was wrong and both sides were to blame. We have had a difference, a quarrel. We engaged ourselves in a reckless and unprincipled fight.
    • Remarks at a memorial for Joshua Nkomo (2 July 2000), referring to the Gukurahundi massacres. Quoted in Mugabe: Power, Plunder, and the Struggle for Zimbabwe's Future (2009) by Martin Meredith
  • What we hate is not the colour of their skins but the evil that emanates from them.
    • Speech at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem, New York (8 September 2000), quoted in Michael Radu, "State of Disaster", National Review, 27 May 2002
  • Of the twelve million hectares that the farmers have, we said we needed about half of that for a start. Even then you will say, of course, "Take all of it!" (laughs) Even deep down as we stand by our revolutionary principles, we still recognize that there should be some little measure of charity. No? Well, I will take your message back home.
    • Speech at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem, New York (8 September 2000)
  • Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy!
    • "Whites are real enemy, warns Mugabe", Irish Times, 15 December 2000, p. 11.
    • Speech to ZANU-PF congress, Harare, 14 December 2000.
  • The white man is not indigenous to Africa. Africa is for Africans. Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans.
    • ibid.
This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold.
  • We have fought for our land, we have fought for our sovereignty, small as we are we have won our independence and we are prepared to shed our blood…. So, Blair keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe.
    • Speech at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg (2 September 2002), quoted in John Battersby and Andrew Grice, "Anti-West anger at summit as Mugabe rounds on Blair", The Independent, 3 September 2002, p. 1.
  • I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for."
  • Let Blair and the British government take note and listen. Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans. Our people are overjoyed. The land is ours. We are now the rulers and owners of Zimbabwe.
    • Michael White, Andrew Meldrum, "Commonwealth leaders delay decision on defiant Mugabe", The Guardian, 6 December 2003, p. 2.
    • Speech to ZANU-PF Congress, 5 December 2003.
  • If the choice was made for us, one for us to lose our sovereignty and become a member of the Commonwealth or to remain with our sovereignty and lose membership of the Commonwealth, then I would say, then let the Commonwealth go. What is it to us? Our people are overjoyed, the land is ours. We are now the rulers and owners of Zimbabwe.
    • ibid.
The Commonwealth is a mere club, but it has become like an 'Animal Farm' where some members are more equal than others. How can Blair claim to regulate and direct events and still say all of us are equals?
  • The Commonwealth is a mere club, but it has become like an 'Animal Farm' where some members are more equal than others. How can Blair claim to regulate and direct events and still say all of us are equals?
    • Richard Dowden, "Mugabe: Commonwealth is 'Animal Farm'", Independent on Sunday, 7 December 2003.
    • Speech to ZANU-PF Congress, 6 December 2003.
  • We are now being coerced to accept and believe that a new political-cum-religious doctrine has arisen, namely that there is but one political God, George W Bush, and Tony Blair is his prophet.

2005 - 2009Edit

  • We cannot have a situation where people decide to sit in places not allowed and when police remove them they say no. We can’t have that. That is a revolt to the system. Some are crying that they were beaten. Yes you will be thoroughly beaten. When the police say move you move. If you don’t move, you invite the police to use force.
    • Addressing delegates at the Zimbabwe embassy in Cairo, Egypt, on the arrest, torture and mistreatment of 15 trade union activists in Zimbabwe, 23 September 2006.
  • When they criticise the government when it tries to prevent violence and punish perpetrators of that violence we take the position that they can go hang.
    • Remarks following a meeting with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete (15 March 2007), commenting on a violent clash between members of his party and the opposition MDC
  • Mr Bush, Mr. Blair and now Mr Brown's sense of human rights precludes our people's right to their God-given resources, which in their view must be controlled by their kith and kin. I am termed dictator because I have rejected this supremacist view and frustrated the neo-colonialists.
    • Speech to the United Nations General Assembly (26 September 2007)
  • Let Mr. Bush read history correctly. Let him realise that both personally and in his representative capacity as the current President of the United States, he stands for this "civilisation" which occupied, which colonised, which incarcerated, which killed. He has much to atone for and very little to lecture us on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities.
    • Speech to the United Nations General Assembly (26 September 2007)
  • He imprisons and tortures at Guantanamo. He imprisoned and tortured at Abu Ghraib. He has secret torture chambers in Europe. Yes, he imprisons even here in the United States, with his jails carrying more blacks than his universities can ever enroll. He even suspends the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Take Guantanamo for example; at that concentration camp international law does not apply. The national laws of the people there do not apply. Laws of the United States of America do not apply. Only Bush's law applies. Can the international community accept being lectured by this man on the provisions of the universal declaration of human rights? Definitely not!
    • Speech to the United Nations General Assembly (26 September 2007)
  • Our economy is a hundred times better, than the average African economy. Outside South Africa, what country is [as good as] Zimbabwe? … What is lacking now are goods on the shelves—that is all.
    • Interview with Heidi Holland (December 2007)
  • I will never, never, never, never surrender. Zimbabwe is mine. I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe never for the British. Britain for the British.
    • Speech in Bindura (20 December 2008)


  • That isn't true. Zimbabwe is the most highly developed country in Africa. After South Africa, I want to see another country as highly developed. [We have 14 universities and a literacy rate of over 90%, the highest in Africa.] And yet they talk about us as a fragile state. We have a bumper harvest, not only maize, but also tobacco and many other crops. We are not a poor country. If anyone wants to call us fragile, they can. You can also call America fragile.
  • The congress is due in a few weeks from now and I will preside over its processes, which must not be prepossessed by any acts calculated to undermine or to compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public.
    • During 2017 coup d'etat, as quoted in Xinhua

Quotes about MugabeEdit

  • President Mugabe is like a lion — when he roars, he leaves some quotable quotes that linger in the mind for a very long time.
    • " Quotable quotes from the President", Sunday Mail (Harare), 17 December 2006.
  • Internal discipline is what he's mastered. What to do with anger, for instance: he is able to control it and not show it. He can sit face to face with his opponents and detractors, smiling and talking and listening, even if he's boiling inside. That's where he keeps his anger - inside.
    • Patricia Bekele, as quoted in Heidi Holland, Dinner with Mugabe, Penguin Books; Reprint edition (5 Feb 2009), ISBN 0143026186
  • What amazes me is how many people are happy for Saddam to stay. They ask why we don't get rid of Mugabe, why not the Burmese lot. Yes, let's get rid of them all. I don't because I can't, but when you can you should.
    • Tony Blair, Michael Ignatieff, "Why Are We In Iraq? (And Liberia? And Afghanistan?)", New York Times, 5 September, 2003.
  • Over the course of more than 2 years, the Government of Zimbabwe has systematically undermined that nation's democratic institutions, employing violence, intimidation, and repressive means including legislation to stifle opposition to its rule. This campaign to ensure the continued rule of Robert Mugabe and his associates was clearly revealed in the badly flawed presidential election held in March 2002. Subsequent to the election, the Mugabe government intensified its repression of opposition political parties and those voices in civil society and the independent press calling on the government to respect the nation's democratic values and the basic human rights of its citizens. To add to the desperation of the besieged Zimbabwean people, the current government has engaged in a violent assault on the rule of law that has thrown the economy into chaos, devastated the nation's agricultural economy, and triggered a potentially catastrophic food crisis.
  • The big, looming, monetary issue is "quantitative easing": that is, printing money. What happens is that the government borrows from the Bank of England, not from the markets. It expands the money supply to keep the economy going and also to counter deflation without simultaneously increasing government debt. The attractions are obvious, as are the dangers. The Robert Mugabe school of economics provides a salutary warning about uncontrolled monetary expansion in generating hyper-inflation. The road to Harare is not as long as we might hope. Monetary easing may prove to be necessary but will have to be managed with great skill and care: Too little easing and the crisis drags on – as in Japan. If there is too much, the authorities face the messy task of mopping-up liquidity by issuing bonds which add to the burden of borrowing or else we lurch back from deflation to inflation. So interest rates may soon become yesterday's story.
  • Mugabe wasn't human at all. You couldn't warm to him as a person. You could admire his skills and intellect and so on, but he was an awfully slippery sort of person - reptilian, as I say.
  • Also, when I came into office, I was determined to see Rhodesia changed into Zimbabwe, to give that country a chance to be independent and to remove the blight of racial discrimination against the blacks who live there. Not too long ago, Prime Minister Mugabe came to see me in the East Room of the White House to express his appreciation to me and to the people of the country for helping his country find democracy.
  • I give you a replica of liberator Simon Bolivar's sword. For you who, like Bolivar, took up arms to liberate your people. For you who, like Bolivar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter. [Mugabe] continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of new imperialists.
  • As the turmoil in Zimbabwe continues after a seriously tainted election process, President Mugabe is employing brutal tactics against dissenters in an attempt to retain power. In addition to raids on opposition party offices and the killing of opposition democracy activists by Mugabe supporters, there are increasing reports that the police are interrogating, arresting, and beating Anglican parishioners and preventing them from attending Church.
  • There's an ideological fervor about this prosecution that's almost religious in its intensity, because let's be clear, this is a heresy trial by any other name. They can't refute Mr. Wilders' statements, so instead they've resorted to the kind of cheap legal stunt we'd expect from the likes of Mugabe to shut their opponent up. They've accused him of being divisive and inflammatory, and yes, sometimes the truth can be divisive and inflammatory if it has been suppressed for long enough and has become sufficiently taboo, as it clearly has in the Netherlands, because according to the prosecution it doesn't even matter that what he says is true; what matters is that it's illegal. Well, when the truth is against the law, then there's something seriously wrong with the law, because when the truth is no defence, there is no defence, and the law has no anchor, so it will drift wherever the wind of political expedience blows, and this week it blew straight into a crooked courtroom in Amsterdam, where justice will now be made to fight for its life, starved of the oxygen of truth that gives it life.
  • Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a wonderful country - I've been there umpteen times and it is being brought to extinction by Mugabe. The average life expectancy is 33, so if you are not dying from Aids, malnutrition, starvation, deprivation or stagnation, don your flannels, black up, play leather on willow. Mugabe as captain and witch doctor, imagine him out at Lord's casting a tincture of bats' tongues and gorillas' gonads.
  • I believe that Mugabe was … driven into a permanent rage by the adulation heaped internationally on Nelson Mandela, an accolade of praise and recognition that he felt was more properly due to himself. And, harboring this grievance, he decided to denude his own unhappy country of anything that might remind anybody of Mandela's legacy.
    • Christopher Hitchens, Mandela Envy: Is Robert Mugabe's lawless misrule founded in jealousy?, Slate, April 21, 2008
  • With his poor childhood development record, even minor criticism would be experienced as a wound by Mugabe. He is a person who cannot tolerate difference. Being profoundly doubtful about himself, he is oversensitive to the idea that he is not as good as everyone else. People are either with him or against him. Differences of opinion are provocative and hurtful to Mugabe, who may think that compromise reduces him. The closer a compromise comes to his emotional self, the more he resists it.
  • People see him as a hero. Not just in Zimbabwe or here in Zambia but across the whole of southern Africa. It's no good demonising Robert Mugabe.
  • Tanzania is standing by the people of Zimbabwe including President Mugabe... Mugabe is there, he is president, he has been elected. If Tanzania had simply said, stupid, you’re hopeless, a murderer, a violator of basic human rights; does that remove Mugabe from office? It doesn’t.
  • Mugabe fought and liberated his country from colonists. But I am here as a guest of the Zimbabwe people. I am not a personal guest of Mugabe. And veterans of the liberation struggle are well aware of this fact.
  • The situation in Zimbabwe has reached a decisive moment. After the years in which the repressive regime of President Robert Mugabe has made a mockery of law while turning what was once southern Africa's breadbasket into a literal economic basket case, the people of Zimbabwe nonetheless bravely went to the polls. The delay in publishing the results of the election raise serious doubts about what is happening. It is now time for the international community, especially Zimbabwe's immediate neighbors, to stand up and be heard in support of Zimbabwe's people, demanding that their votes be respected.
  • He believed profoundly in his people, the living as well as the dead. You can say of some Africans that there is a thin veneer of civilisation as we know it in the West. But Mugabe, who was undoubtedly civilised and much better educated than most of us, still held African beliefs very dearly in his heart. I think this is one of the reasons he pushed the white farmers off the land. He was always acutely aware that African beliefs reside in the soil. He always believed very, very strongly that nobody had the right to give or take away the land of the people because that meant giving away the ancestors who held the whole nation together.
    • Mac McGuiness, as quoted in Heidi Holland, Dinner with Mugabe, Penguin Books; Reprint edition (5 Feb 2009), ISBN 0143026186
  • Well, I mean, one difference is, is you see the end of the constitution of Venezuela. And this is happening obviously at an accelerated pace in recent months, in the Maduro regime. But this is a process that has taken, really, two regimes to really restrict Venezuelan democracy. And by designating Maduro himself, he joins a very exclusive club -- including Mr. Mugabe, Bashar al-Assad, and Kim Jong-un in terms of the brutal repression of his people and, in this case, the abrogation of the constitution with the constitution -- with the constituent assembly
  • Why have the leaders of the most powerful country on the African continent (Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma) succored the leader of the most corrupt (Mugabe)? These South African strongmen were, in a manner, saluting the Alpha Male Mugabe by implementing a slow-motion version of his program. When he socked it to the whites, Mugabe cemented his status as hero to black activists and their sycophants across South Africa.
  • He is a very disciplined man. He treated people with respect. He wasn't lavish in his lifestyle but he did have clear standards. He dressed well, invariably in a dark suit with a silk tie and matching handkerchief, but without ostentation. He wore a good watch but nothing flashy. You could tell that money and acquisitiveness were not part of his motivation. There was another motive that drove him.
  • I'll be honest with you, I'm heartbroken when I see what's happened in Zimbabwe. I think Mugabe is an example of a leader who came in as a liberation fighter and--I'm just going to be very blunt--I do not see him serving his people well. And the abuses, the human rights abuses, the violence that's been perpetrated against opposition leaders, I think, is terrible.
  • It's been a great pleasure to have had the opportunity today to meet with Prime Minister Robert Mugabe of the Republic of Zimbabwe. As the first Prime Minister of Africa's newest independent state, his wise leadership has been a crucial factor in healing the wounds of civil war and developing a new nation with new opportunities.
  • Do you know what Mugabe has done? He's taken people's identity and literally if you don't mind, cut it to pieces. This is what he's actually done, to a lot of – and in the end there's nothing. So as far as I'm concerned from now on I'm not going to wear a dog collar until Mugabe's gone.
    • John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, as quoted in "Archbishop makes Zimbabwe protest". BBC News. 9 December 2007
  • He was a very clever bloke and he worked with me for as long as he thought it was going to help him. Once again, it was just to keep himself in power. I give that answer to all questions about Mugabe because that is all there is to it. Everything he has ever done is about keeping himself in power: Dictators and fascists all over the world think like that.
  • After leading a successful anticolonial war of liberation, Robert Mugabe was elected the first president of independent Zimbabwe. It was hoped that, like Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Mugabe would guide Africa to a new era of democracy. But with each year that has passed, he has turned increasingly dictatorial, and he has run his country into the ground. Since 1988, life expectancy in Zimbabwe has plunged from sixty-two years to thirty-eight. The destruction of the health of his people is as much as an abuse of human rights as arbitrary arrest and torture.

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