Zimbabwe political crisis: Robert Mugabe's reign of terror draws to end; his journey from teacher to oldest head of State

Africa has been left riveted by the events unfolding in Zimbabwe which left President Robert Mugabe in military custody.

Zimbabwe's military has assumed control of the nation's capital Harare and the state broadcaster.

Mugabe and his wife have been placed under house arrest in what appeared to be a coup against Mugabe.

However, the military insisted that it had not staged a military takeover, but was instead starting a process to restore Zimbabwe's democracy.

Many across the continent have known no other leader of the once-prosperous African nation but the 93-year-old Mugabe, the world's oldest head of State.

 Zimbabwe political crisis: Robert Mugabes reign of terror draws to end; his journey from teacher to oldest head of State

File image of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. Reuters

Mugabe's three decades in power:

Mugabe led the Zimbabwe since its independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Despite signs of increasing frailty that include dozing off in meetings, stumbling and extended trips overseas for medical treatment, Mugabe has withstood multiple election challenges and years of US sanctions.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born on 21 February, 1924 at a Catholic mission village near Southern Rhodesia's capital city, Salisbury.

According to The New Zealand Herald, Mugabe's father, Gabriel Matibiri, was a carpenter and his mother, Bona, was a religious teacher. Mugabe was instilled with an austere sense of self-discipline from the beginning of his life, added the report.

Mugabe, according to Daily Mail, was known as a bit of a loner and a bookworm.

He was educated at Kutama Mission School and Fort Hare University and worked as a teacher at various schools in Zimbabwe and in neighbouring countries, according to a report in The Telegraph.

Mugabe took the plunge into politics in the early 1960s, demanding equal rights, says a Public Radio International report.

He helped form a party called the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).

Mugabe was thrown into jail in 1964, where he languished for 10 years.

He later became Zimbabwe's first black prime minister in 1980.

Mugabe's rule over Zimbabwe was dominated by murder, bloodshed, torture, persecution of political opponents, intimidation and vote-rigging on a grand scale, according to The Telegraph report.

Power struggle with Emmerson Mnangagwa


Mugabe appears to have stumbled badly with his firing last week of former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a longtime ally who had the support of the military.

The sacking led many in Zimbabwe to think that first lady Grace Mugabe was being positioned to succeed.

Mugabe had accused his former protege Mnangagwa of showing impatience to succeed him. Addressing supporters on 8 November at the headquarters of his ZANU-PF party in Harare, Mugabe accused Mnangagwa of consulting witch doctors and prophets as part of a campaign to secure the presidency.

Mnangagwa has been embroiled in a long-running feud with Mugabe's wife Grace, 52.

Both were seen as leading contenders to replace Mugabe but Mnangagwa has the tacit support of the armed forces, which viewed Grace—a political novice—with derision.

Other possible successors: 

1. First lady Grace Mugabe

The 52-year-old met the president years ago as a secretary in his office. She had an affair with Mugabe that produced his first children and married the president after his first wife passed away.

Her political profile has soared in the past few years and she has openly indicated her interest in the presidency, even publicly challenging her husband earlier this year to name a successor.

She also has been a fierce defender of her ailing husband, declaring that he could run as a "corpse" in next year's election and remain in power.

2. Army commander Constantino Chiwenga

Monday's unprecedented comments by the army commander warning against a purge of Mnangagwa supporters and other senior war veterans sparked the crisis. The statement by the 61-year-old Chiwenga also opened the first public rift between Mugabe and the military and set the country on edge.

Mugabe called off India trip last year 

In March 2016, Mugabe pulled out of the the Art of Living foundation's culture festival event due to security and protocol issues.

Mugabe was scheduled to be the guest of honour at the world culture festival.

The three-day World Culture Festival organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's foundation was mired in controversy.

Mugabe has visited India on seven state visits, the most recent being in 2015 for the India Africa Summit.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 16, 2017 15:14:45 IST