By Staff Writer
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been named among the 100 most influential Africans of all time. The much-maligned leader who has and continues to be a figure of hatred in most Western countries for his stand on land ownership and the grabbing of land from white Zimbabwean farmers, was named alongside former South African President Nelson Mandela who still carries weight as Africa’s elder statesman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and 97 other Africans that were declared to be the top 100 Most Influential Africans in the June issue of New African magazine.
The compilation, in no particular order, featured “top influencers, opinion-shapers, doers, agitators, ground breakers and myth busters who are shaping the face Africa” and were broken down into categories, namely by sector, that include Business and Finance, Music, Science and Technology, Media, and Authors and Poets.
Mr Mugabe who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron hand since its independence in 1980, was stated to “continue to mesmerise the world as well as vex his opponents with his ability to hold on to power” and recognised as a popular subject of discussion on Africa’s political and economic future “as people consider what there is to be learnt, or not learnt from his example”.
Born in 1924, Robert Gabriel Mugabe was educated in missionary schools and received the first of his seven degrees from South Africa’s Fort Hare University. Returning to Rhodesia in 1960 he joined Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) but left three years later to form the rival Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu).
Jailed without trial for 10 years he left Rhodesia for neighbouring Mozambique in 1974 and led the largest of the guerrilla forces fighting a protracted and bloody war against the Smith government. After months of negotiations the 1979 Lancaster House agreement set the seal on a Rhodesian peace deal and Mr Mugabe returned home to a rapturous welcome from black supporters. He initially built a coalition government with Mr Nkomo, whose ZAPU forces had also fought the Smith government, but the discovery of a large arms cache at ZAPU-owned houses led to Mr Nkomo’s dismissal from government.