Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe And The Tragedy Of Zimbabwe

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9781586481865: Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe And The Tragedy Of Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980 after a long civil war in Rhodesia. The white minority government had become an international outcast in refusing to give in to the inevitability of black majority rule. Finally the defiant white prime minister Ian Smith was forced to step down and Mugabe was elected president of a country now called Zimbabwe. Initially hopes were high that he had the intelligence, political savvy and idealistic vision to help repair the damage done by colonialism and the bitter civil war, and to lead his country's economic and social development. He was admired throughout the world as one of the leaders of the emerging nations and as a model for a good transition from colonial leadership. But month by month, year by year, Mugabe became increasingly autocratic; his methods increasingly violent. In recent years he has unleashed a reign of terror and corruption in his country. Like the Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia, Zimbabwe has been on a steady slide to disaster.

What happened in Zimbabwe? Now for the first time the whole story is told in detail by an expert. It is a riveting and tragic political story, a morality tale, and an essential text for understanding today's Africa.

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Review:

In 1980, Zimbabwe was the great hope of Africa, a place where blacks were supposed to realize their postcolonial destinies under the enlightened leadership of Robert Mugabe. But now the country formerly known as Rhodesia is an international basket case with a wrecked economy and a dim future. In this disturbing book by Martin Meredith, a British journalist with extensive experience in southern Africa, Mugabe transforms into a villain. "Year by year, he acquired ever greater power, ruling the country through a vast system of patronage, favoring loyal aides and cronies with government positions and contracts and ignoring the spreading blight of corruption," writes Meredith. "Power for Mugabe was not a means to an end, but the end itself." His reign has been so wretched, in fact, that some of the most sympathetic people in Our Votes, Our Guns are the white farmers who once supported apartheid-style rule but decided not to flee when Mugabe came to power. They were promised multiracial harmony; what they got instead was a racist dictator who thought nothing of using violence against them. Admirers of Philip Gourevitch--or, indeed, anyone with an interest in African politics--will appreciate Meredith's depressing but important story. --John Miller

About the Author:

Martin Meredith has spent much of his life writing about Africa: first as a foreign correspondent for the London Observer and Sunday Times, then as a research fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford, and now as an independent author and commentator. He is the author of In the Name of Apartheid: South Africa's New Era, The Past is Another Country, The First Dance of Freedom, Nelson Mandela, Coming to Terms: South Africa's Search for Truth, and Africa's Elephant.

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