The Blame Game – What Mugabe’s Been Playing Since 1980

As Zimbabwe’s economy has gone from bad to worse in recent years, Robert Mugabe’s political and physical demisehas been predicted many times but he has always confounded his many critics – so far at least. He has been seen as a revolutionary hero, fighting white minority rule for the freedom of his people, but some rank him among the continent’s worst.

By Jerry Chifamba

Since Zimbabwe’s independence, most of the world has moved on – but his outlook remains the same. For Mugabe, there is always someone else to blame. He never takes responsibility. His favourite scapegoat is Western sanctions, although throughout over the years, he has switched tactics and blames internal rivals. Any critics are dismissed as “traitors and sell-outs” – a throwback to the guerrilla war, when such labels could be a death sentence.

Here are ten instances in which he has played his blame game:

1. Conflict with Joshua Nkomo

Despite reaching their ultimate goal, ousting Smith’s minority regime, Nkomo would not reconcile his differences with Mugabe.

Initially, Mugabe refused to give Nkomo the position of minister of defence which Nkomo had been hoping for. After the intervention of Sally Hayfron, Nkomo was appointed to the Cabinet (as minister without portfolio), but in 1982 was accused of plotting a coup d’état after South African double agents in Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organization, attempting to cause distrust between ZAPU and ZANU, planted arms on ZAPU owned farms and then tipped Mugabe off to their existence.

In a public statement Mugabe said, “ZAPU and its leader Joshua Nkomo, are like a cobra in a house. The only way to deal effectively with a snake is to strike and destroy its head”. He unleashed the Fifth Brigade upon Nkomo’s Matabeleland homeland in Operation Gukurahundi, killing up to 20,000 Ndebele civilians in an attempt to destroy ZAPU and create a one-party state. Nkomo fled the country.

Mugabe’s government claimed that he had “illegally” left dressed as a woman.

2. Conflict with Edgar Tekere

Edgar Tekere supported Mugabe at the 1985 elections but by October 1988 his consistent criticism of corruption resulted in his expulsion from the party. When Mugabe voiced his belief that Zimbabwe would be better governed as a one party state, Tekere strongly disagreed, saying “A one-party state was never one of the founding principles of ZANU-PF and experience in Africa has shown that it brought the evils of nepotism, corruption and inefficiency.”

He ran against Robert Mugabe in the 1990 Presidential race as the candidate of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement, offering a broadly free market platform against Mugabe’s communist-style economic planning.

3. Accusations against Solomon Mujuru

It was generally thought that Mujuru had a tremendous amount of influence on who would lead ZANU-PF and the country. He was the only person believed to have had the stature to challenge Mugabe during party meetings. Reports claimed Mujuru had been under house arrest and 24-hour surveillance between 2007 and 2008 for his role in attempting to oust Mugabe.

4. Blames Mandela for ‘giving whites in South Africa so much power’

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe has on several occasions said that Nelson Mandela preferred his personal freedom over the economic freedom of black South Africans. He says that whites in South Africa control land, industries and companies because Mandela had made a big mistake by ignoring the land issue.

In a meeting with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Mandela said that an increasingly unpopular President Robert Mugabe did not want him (Mandela) released from prison.

5. “So Blair, keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe.”

For a long time, Mugabe has blamed sanctions, Western forces and others for the myriad problems faced by the nation. He was applauded by some United Nations delegates as he claimed that Tony Blair and George Bush were “international terrorists” bent on world domination like Adolf Hitler.

Former U.S. president, George W Bush called Mugabe’s rule “tyrannical”, while Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, accused Mugabe of human rights abuses and running down what was once one of Africa’s most prosperous economies.

Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, denies those accusations saying these two were trying to sabotage his country.

6. Morgan Tsvangirai arrests

Tsvangirai was arrested several times including after the 2000 elections and charged with treason; this charge was later dismissed. In 2004, Tsvangirai was acquitted of treason for an alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe in the run-up to the 2002 presidential elections. Mugabe also blames Tsvangirai for allegedly calling for sanctions to be imposed on Zimbabwe.

7. U.S.$15 billion in diamonds looted

In an astonishing confession, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has revealed that diamonds worth more than U.S.$15 billion have been looted in the eastern mining area of Marange.

Diamonds have been mined in eastern Zimbabwe since 2006. In 2011, government officials announced that the country had vast gemstone deposits which would account for 25% of the world’s rough-diamond supply. This find was supposed to transform the country’s economic prospects and, ultimately, the lives of its people.

“The companies that have been mining have virtually robbed us, I want to say, of our wealth…You cannot trust a private company in that area. None at all,” Mugabe said.

8. Mugabe Complains About Poorly Cooked Food

In a leaked audio recording of a  family event, Mugabe believes his wife is strong-headed and he does not challenge most of her decisions for the sake of peace at home. he then took time to complain about the poorly cooked food he has to eat on a regular basis.

9. Don’t be like Jamaicans

Addressing youth to refrain from smoking and drinkind Mugabe sparked an angry reaction in Jamaica after he blamed Jamaicans for influencing the youth. He added that Jamaican men were only interested in smoking marijuana and singing all day. “In Jamaica, they have freedom to smoke cannabis, the men are always high and universities are full of women,” he said.

10. When Mugabe Tripped And The Internet Made The Best Memes Ever

Mugabe fell down a staircase as he walked off a podium after addressing supporters at Harare International Airport. His security team scrambled to help him to his feet and desperately tried to brush over it by purportedly forcing photographers to delete their pictures of the incident. But it failed to stop social media users having their fun at the the nonagenarian’s expense with a series of hilarious memes.

According to reports, Mugabe suspended no fewer than 27 bodyguards for failing to stop his embarrassing fall.

In the late Botswana president Quett Ketumile Masire’s Memoirhe says:

When Zimbabwe imposed duties on imports from Botswana in clear violation of the free trade agreement, Mugabe blamed the problem on his minister for trade.