After over thirty-five years in power, Robert Mugabe, the great strongman and “woke” leader of Zimbabwe, was deposed by his own military in one day.
On Wednesday, Major General Sibusiso Moyo made an address on national television saying that the Zimbabwe National Army was in full control of the capital (Harare) and that Mugabe was no longer calling the shots. General Moyo did, however, note that Mugabe and his wife Grace are both alive and well. South African President Jacob Zuma confirmed that Mugabe is indeed still breathing 1.
That’s just a crying shame. If there was ever a leader who deserved to eat a bullet, it’s Robert Mugabe.
The coup came about after Mugabe fired the popular vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, last week. Mugabe, or rather Grace Mugabe, who, until Wednesday, truly controlled the country, sent Mnangagwa into exile in South Africa.
From here, Mnangagwa planned, directed, and ultimately executed his coup. The military has promised the people of Zimbabwe “genuine democracy” after decades of Mugabe’s “gross abuse of power.” Chris Mutsvangwa, the chairman of Zimbabwe’s war veterans’ association, praised the nation’s soldiers for carrying out a “bloodless correction” 2.
The only raised voice in dissent so far has come from Mugabe’s own ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union—Patriotic Front) party. They are screaming treason, but without the guns and tanks and bombers behind them, these words mean nothing.
Let that be a lesson for all hopeful revolutionaries—get the military on your side first.
Despite this good news, the truth is that Zimbabwe will never be a healthy, functional state. We will get to the reason why in a second, but let us first examine how Bobby Mugabe destroyed what had once been the “bread basket” of southern Africa.
The story begins on November 11, 1965. On that day, the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia declared unilateral independence from London. This declaration came after a string of disastrous negotiations between British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Prime Minister Ian Smith of Southern Rhodesia. Wilson’s Labour government wanted Salisbury to give an equal share of the government to Rhodesia’s black majority population. Smith and 220,000 white, English-speaking Rhodesians refused.
“There can be no happiness in a country while the absurd situation continues to exist where people, such as ourselves, who have ruled themselves with an impeccable record for over 40 years, are denied what is freely granted to other countries,” Smith told a rapturous crowd 3. With these words, Smith and the government of the newly independent Rhodesia became a pariah on the world’s stage.
It is worth mentioning that Wilson, the man lionized as the great champion of anti-colonialism, oversaw not only the decline of the British Empire, but also sank the United Kingdom into generational debt, destroyed British high culture, and utterly obliterated its world-class education system. Peter Hitchens has called Wilson’s government “the most socially and culturally revolutionary ministry in modern history” . Not bad for a chubby economics professor.
As for Smith, he was a completely different animal—more of a throwback to the brave, industrious, and violent British men who helped to tame the “Dark Continent.” During World War II, Smith flew for the No. 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron of the Royal Air Force. In June 1944, German anti-aircraft guns shot Smith out of the sky, thus forcing him to try and navigate the dangerous battlefields of northern Italy on foot. For a time Smith and other men fought alongside Italian partisans against the Germans, then, when the Wehrmacht pulled out of the area, Smith hiked the Maritime Alps without shoes and socks into order to reach American troops in southern France. His wartime injuries would leave him with one half of his face permanently frozen. This man, courageous by any measure, was called all kinds of filthy names by the mainstream press in North America when he died 5.
Smith’s government fought to retain white-minority rule in Rhodesia and faced down both the Soviet Union and China while doing it. Even the United States despised Rhodesia (and the Portuguese colony of Mozambique which supplied Rhodesia with resources and weapons 6), thus forcing the small African nation to fight Afro-Marxist guerrillas completely on its own.
Against all odds, Salisbury held out and proved that, in the 1970s, there was no better fighting man in the world than the Rhodesian 7. However, despite their victories on the ground, the Rhodesians signed onto the Internal Settlement of 1978, which finally caved to international pressure and allowed moderate black parties to run for government. Two years later, Mugabe, a bush radical who had fought for both Soviet- and Chinese-backed guerrillas during the Rhodesian Bush War, was elected into power. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, and Salisbury became Harare.
These cosmetic changes hold nothing compared to what Mugabe did to the economy and the country’s white minority. During the 1960s and 1970s, when most of the first world placed punitive sanctions on Rhodesia, the country not only made smart trade allegiances with Portugal and South Africa but also set up a government-directed exchange control administration that allowed Salisbury to direct the flow of the country’s currency reserves 8. Under the “evil” whites, Rhodesia became one of the wealthiest nations in all of Africa, with modern infrastructure and a functioning state with public services.
Since the 1990s, Zimbabwe has been consistently listed as one of the poorest countries in the world. Inflation is out of control, daily wages are all but non-existent, and the average life expectancy is a pitiful fifty-nine years. In 2007 and 2008, one trillion Zimbabwe dollars could buy a loaf of bread 9.
In the midst of this depression, Mugabe still found time to spend millions on lavish trips. If he had lasted in power until December, American economists believe that Mugabe would have spent $40 million on personal travel in 2017 alone. Grace Mugabe’s flashy spending habits are notorious in Zimbabwe, thus earning her the nickname “Gucci Grace.”
Mugabe has managed to maintain power for so long despite this egregious corruption simply by employing the oldest trick in post-colonial Africa: spewing anti-white invectives. In 2000, Mugabe attempted to purge all white farmers from Zimbabwe by directing thugs to beat them up or murder them. Mugabe claimed that his government was merely taking back what had been “stolen” by Europeans in the 19th century. Mugabe then doubled down by saying that his government would exonerate all those black Zimbabweans found guilty of murdering white farmers 10. While this proved disastrous for Zimbabwe’s economy (Mugabe’s government even had to ask some white farmers to return 11), other Afro-Marxist nations, most notably South Africa, have copied it with shocking alacrity 12.
Mugabe made a career out of bashing the white man. Like other African strongmen, Mugabe's constant invocations of colonialism and racism are a dodge meant to make Africans overlook the fact that, by all discernible measures, they were better off living under European flags.
But, in a country where the average IQ is sixty-six 13, common sense, reason, and cognition are in short supply. Once the military is out, there is really nothing to stop another Mugabe from coming to power in Zimbabwe. Just chalk this up as another example why mass democracy is a failure.
Frankly, it is a shame that the army did not kill Mugabe. All tyrants, especially those who have fed their starving people decades-worth of lies about the evil white man, deserve nothing less. Better yet, those post-colonial professors who have given their racial grievance mongering intellectual cover over the years deserve the firing squad, too.
Alas, and alack, the world is not just or perfect.