The Republic of Zimbabwe is a country divided into ten provinces which are then divided up into districts, and then by municipalities. This is mostly due to previous war efforts that the country has gone through. Zimbabwe has gone through political turmoil and civil unrest for decades and has been a repeat offender for violating the basic human rights of its citizens. The political structure of Zimbabwe is a republic, but they have a semi-presidential system of government with an upper Senate and a lower House of Assembly that has a President as the head of the country.
The current President of Zimbabwe is Robert Mugabe, he was born on February 21, 1924, in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He was the son of a village carpenter and was trained as a teacher in a Roman Catholic mission school. After mission school, Mugabe went into nationalist politics while he was a student at the University College of Fort Hare, South Africa. Robert Mugabe completed his economics degree in 1958 but kept on teaching in a school in Ghana until 1960. He also taught at St. Mary’s Teacher Training College where he met his first wife, Sarah Heyfron. The became friends and later married in 1961.
Robert Mugabe returned to Rhodesia in 1960, and in 1963 he helped the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole to form the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) but his political career actually began when he joined the National Democratic Party, which then became the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU). He was there for a while before he founded the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). The two parties, ZAPU and ZANU clashed, which resulted in the party’s leaders, and Robert Mugabe serving a time in jail. After serving ten years in jail, Robert Mugabe was voted leader of ZANU, before forming a militant faction of the party. Robert Mugabe was later elected Prime Minister of the first government of Zimbabwe, with ZANU winning the majority of the seats in the new Parliament, and under his rule, the two feuding political parties formed the conjoined Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
Robert Mugabe abolished the position of Prime Minister in 1987, and assumed the position of President of Zimbabwe, and has held this position for over three decades. With all these, it seems that there’s no more to be known but with an enigma like Mugabe, we have fished out very interesting facts that most people still don’t know about him.
Table of Contents
- His full name is Robert Gabriel Mugabe. He was born on 21st February 1924 in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe. The place came under the British rule at that point in time and the region was under too much political stress because of this reason.
- Gabriel Matibili was his father. He was a carpenter. His mother, Bona, was from the Shona ethnic group.
- Robert Mugabe comes from a highly dysfunctional family background
- Robert Mugabe is reported to have had two older brothers when he was a young boy, both of whom died while they were still only children. Around the time of the second child’s death aged 10, his father abandoned the family in 1934. Robert Mugabe’s mother had to start a new family thereafter, and so she went on to bear new children from another husband.
- Some sources also report that Mugabe’s father went to South Africa to work at a Jesuit mission when Mugabe was still a little boy, but he never came back home.
- His mother was left alone to raise Mugabe and his three other siblings on her own.
- His stepfather was a strict and fanatically religious man and made sure that Robert Mugabe was brought up in line with the Catholic faith, sending him to a Jesuit school, where discipline was of paramount importance, instilling some ‘tough love’ values in Mugabe, which he says have guided him throughout his life.
- Mugabe tried to help his mother by tending cows and doing odd jobs in his childhood.
- Mugabe had a special interest in education. He had his schooling under the guidance of the school director Father O’Hea.
- Mugabe luckily had a good influence in his childhood as he was under the supervision of O’Hea, who taught him to treat all people equally and directed toward education fulfilment. His teachers used to often call him “a clever child”.
- He diligently finished his college education at the Katuma’s St. Francis Xavier College in the year 1945. He didn’t lose his touch with the education sector as he chose the profession of a teacher and taught in Rhodesia and Ghana.
- He also pursued higher education at Fort Hare University in South Africa at the same time. In 1951, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and English from there.
- After that, he returned to his place to help locals with education. He decided to continue his education and earned the degree of Bachelors of Education through the correspondence course in 1953 when he was in his hometown.
- When he was in the hometown, he noticed the residents of Southern Rhodesia were pretty oppressed about the new rules and restrictions placed on their daily lives.
- Mugabe is of average height, measuring a little over 5 feet 7 inches, and exhibits what his biographer David Blair described as “curious, effeminate mannerisms”. Mugabe took great care with his appearance, typically wearing a three-piece suit, and insisting that members of his cabinet dressed in a similar Anglophile fashion.
- Mugabe doesn’t smoke or drink.
- It was Ghana, where he met his wife Sally Hayfron for the first time and got married to her. However, he got married to Grace Marufu (who was his then secretary), who is his present wife, after Sally’s death.
- He had one son with Sally Hayfron, but he died at the age of 4. He has two sons and one daughter with Grace Marufu.
- The very first unknown fact about President Robert Mugabe is that while he was incarcerated in Wha Wha prison, then the Sikombela, and then finally Salisbury prison where he served the majority of his prison sentence, he earned two law degrees; a BSc, Bachelor of Law and MSc Master of Law. He earned these degrees from the University of London’s external program. – Besides these degrees, Mugabe has earned thirteen Honorary LLD, D. Com and D. Tech degrees, with three of the LLD degrees, revoked.
- Mugabe holds a total of seven degrees, including a Bachelor of Laws and Masters of Laws from the University of London. His other degrees cover the academic fields of economics, education and administration.
- But on top of all his own merits, he was also awarded several honorary degrees as well as other official honours – many of which have since been revoked on account of the human rights violations in Zimbabwe under his rule. Both the University of Massachusetts and Michigan State University in the United States withdrew Mugabe’s honorary doctorates as well as the University of Edinburgh in the UK.
Revolutionary Activity, Political Career and Ideology
- At 93, he is the oldest head of state on Earth. He has been in power for 37 years.
- Robert Mugabe has been the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Since 1980.
- He also served his nation as a President.
- When Mugabe went to his hometown in 1960 to introduce his fiancée, he discovered a drastic change in the place which left him quite disappointed.
- Mugabe was selected Public Secretary of the National Democratic Party in 1960.
- He co-founded Zimbabwe African National Union in 1963.
- He was arrested for his aggressive protests against the British colonial Government and imprisoned for ten years.
- He enjoys being compared to Hitler. When someone made the comparison, due to his alleged racist attitudes towards white people, Mugabe responded, ‘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.’
- Mugabe was actually nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize when he took power in 1981, but a series of massacres which left thousands dead turned global opinion against him.
- Mugabe has (allegedly) fiddled elections using intimidation and other tactics – and also won the lottery in Zimbabwe in 2000, winning 100,000 Zimbabwean dollars.
- Mugabe was originally a teacher, and while his regime has become notorious for violence, Zimbabwe has a literacy level of above 90%. This is due largely to Robert Mugabe’s passion for education, and his past history of learning to become a teacher and teaching fellow inmates how to read while he was incarcerated.
- Mugabe was actually knighted, but his knighthood was withdrawn in 2008 after 14 years. President Robert Mugabe was awarded Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Bath in 1994 by Queen Elizabeth II for improving relations between Britain and Zimbabwe, but this was revoked in 2008 due to his abuse of the basic human rights of his citizens, and his total disregard for the democratic process which his presidency has ruled over. So, on 25 June 2008, the Queen of England cancelled and annulled the honorary knighthood after advice from the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom. “This action has been taken as a mark of revulsion at the abuse of human rights and abject disregard for the democratic process in Zimbabwe over which President Mugabe has presided”
- When Gordon Brown attempted to step in over Mugabe’s refusal to release election results (he lost, but remains in power through a new sharing arrangement) in 2008, Mugabe described him as a, ‘a little tiny dot on this planet’.
- Mugabe was raised in a Jesuit school, and is a devoted Catholic, attending the funeral of the last Pope despite a ‘no-fly’ rule barring him from most of the planet. Robert Mugabe does not seem to care much about proper travel documentation.
The year was 2013. The occasion: the inauguration of Pope Francis in Vatican Square. Despite the fact that Mr Mugabe was pretty much listed on every no-fly list in the Western world and is still not allowed to enter the EU on account of hefty sanctions imposed on the Zimbabwean leader, he still somehow managed to sneak in and out of Italy on his way to the Vatican in order to witness the pontification of Francis.
Citing religious reasons, he managed to subvert the ban and attend the ceremony like a true pilgrim of faith. He may have received his blessing and even his absolution while he was at St Peter’s Basilica, but whether he will truly be forgiven for all his sins is an altogether different question, which we can’t even begin to answer.
- Mugabe often drops provocative quotes about how much he hates white people, such as, ‘The white man is here as a second citizen. The only man you can trust is a dead white man.’ Robert Mugabe has been viewed as being racist towards white people and targeting white citizens in various ways. Along with this, due to his religious views, he’s opposed to LGBT rights in Zimbabwe, banning homosexual acts within the country, and stating that homosexuals were “worse than dogs and pigs”.
- For years, Mugabe has travelled to East Asia for medical treatment – reputed to involve transfusions – which has left him, he claims, ‘Fitter than two fiddles’.
Mugabe claims that age has not diminished his strength – suggesting, ‘I feel as energetic as a nine-year-old boy.’
- His birthday party will cost £650,000 – a display Human Rights Watch has branded ‘obscene’ in a country where one in three children is stunted due to hunger, according to the UN. Mugabe’s guests reportedly enjoy two elephants at the birthday ‘do’ – provided by a local farmer, much to the horror of conservationists. Guests at his birthday also receive T-shirts commemorating events in Mugabe’s life.
- Mugabe led his country’s revolution against a colonial regime backed by Britain in 1980, and he still has support among some Africans. Mugabe was elected chairman of the 54-nation African Union at a summit of African leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
- He spent ten years in prison before assuming the leadership of Zimbabwe.
- While serving as Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe allowed thousands of Matabeleland natives to be killed, due to political tensions between him and his opposing political party, which resulted in the formation of the one big Zimbabwean political party – but not without the cost of over 20,000 lives.
- Robert Mugabe is a lottery winner. In 2000, when Zimbabwe was barely managing to come out of its worst famine and one out of two Zimbabweans was suffering from continuous unemployment, Robert Mugabe’s name was the one that was miraculously drawn by the national lottery in Zimbabwe, winning 100,000 Zimbabwean dollars (the equivalent of about $2,500 today). The entire country was surprised at the time but with the lottery being drawn by the country’s Reserve Bank, and with many of its directors having direct ties to or careers in government that surprise turned out to be short-lived. However, Mugabe’s lucky win in the 2000 lottery was nothing compared to the lavish spending on his 90th birthday celebrations earlier this year, which is assumed to have run a total bill of over $40 million, pulled together from party funds, municipal money and ‘donations’. When it comes to money, our neighbour Bob is certainly not short of creative ideas.
Mugabe and his family alongside top government officials are being held under house arrest by the military in the country. His Minister of Finance has also been detained.