Mugabe’s greatest strength


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s greatest strength and the main reason why he has survived so long is that he really doesn’t care what his enemies think of him, says journalist Neil Clark in an article published by RT.

Mugabe who turns 91 this month was elected chairman of the African Union last week and also chairs the Southern African Development Community.

Most western countries were against his elevation to AU chairmanship, although this is largely a ceremonial post, because of his human rights record in Zimbabwe.

“Arguably Mugabe’s greatest strength, and the number one reason why he has lasted so long, is that he really doesn’t care what his enemies think of him,” Clark argues.

“A very big mistake made by several leaders whose countries have been threatened by the US and its allies is to believe that acting reasonably towards those who are clearly out to destroy them will help prevent the attacks.

“Slobodan Milosevic, for instance, hosted the obnoxious warmonger and virulently anti-Serb Richard Holbrooke or talks in Belgrade – only a few months before his country was bombed by Holbrooke and his cronies.

“Muammar Gaddafi warmly embraced Western leaders only a few years before his country was destroyed by the West.

“Mugabe hasn’t made this mistake. He seems to understand that if you let your enemies know that you care what they think about you- you empower them. Worst still if you invite them round to your house for tea and biscuits. Mugabe doesn’t let his opponents dictate his behavior.”

He added: “Mugabe really doesn’t care if those he considers his enemies like him or not, or approve of his policies. That gives him a certain strength that other leaders might not have.

“Even if we don’t support him, or agree with every position he takes (his strong opposition to gay rights for instance would be anathema to many western progressives), you have to admire Mugabe’s defiance and his continued ability to ruffle feathers even into his nineties.

“His inaugural speech as Chairman of the African Union showed that ‘Comrade Robert Mugabe’ has no intention of cooling it, he declared that Africa’s wealth belongs to Africa and not “‘imperialists and colonialists.”

“The long-serving President of Zimbabwe is undoubtedly a man who divides opinion but if we cast him as a pantomime villain, which is how he is routinely portrayed in the West, we don’t really get close to understanding how he has lasted this long.”

For my opinion about how Mugabe has lasted this long, check: God, Mugabe and the West.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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