Smiley, Xan
June 1980
Foreign Affairs;Summer80, Vol. 58 Issue 5, p1060
This article discusses the decolonization of Zimbabwe from Great Britain, its significance to the stability of the Southern African region, and the rise to power of Robert Mugabe, a professed Marxist. Mugabe's rise to power inside the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), as much as in Zimbabwe itself, is a remarkable history of skill and determination. During the prime years of his life, the only activity he could undertake, due to a ten-year spell in prison and detention from 1964 to 1974, was study. As is well known, he achieved several scholastic successes, mainly in the fields of law and politics. But he was necessarily divorced from outside party activity. From 1970 onward, however, the personality and tactics of the ZANU leader, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, who was also in detention, fell under growing criticism from his closest party colleagues imprisoned alongside him, and they, in a so-called prison coup, replaced him with Mugabe. By 1979 Mugabe had clearly managed to assert himself over the guerrillas and had begun to restructure the party. He had strengthened the central committee with a number of co-opted members and had made the military more directly answerable to the politicians.


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