Timeline: Robert Mugabe – the life of Zimbabwe’s late president

Former independence leader has died at the age of 95

November 21st, 2017: A look back at the controversial political career of former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, who has died aged 95.

 

Following are key milestones in the life of Zimbabwe’s former leader Robert Mugabe, who has died aged 95.

1924 - Mugabe is born on February 21st in what was then British-ruled Southern Rhodesia.

1940s-1950s - He is educated at Catholic schools and attends South Africa’s University of Fort Hare. He teaches in Zambia and Ghana, where he is influenced by African independence movement leaders.

1960s - Mugabe campaigns for Zimbabwe’s independence and is imprisoned in 1964 for political agitation. While incarcerated, he earns two law degrees from the University of London External Programme.

1974 - Released from prison, he escapes to Mozambique where Zimbabwe African National Union guerrilla fighters elect him to lead their struggle against white minority rule. A number of rivals die in suspicious circumstances, rights groups say.

1980 - Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party wins independent Zimbabwe’s first election. He takes office as prime minister on April 18th.

1982 - Mugabe deploys North Korean-trained troops to crush an insurgency by former guerrillas loyal to his liberation war rival Joshua Nkomo. Government forces are accused of involvement in the killing of 20,000 civilians, which Mugabe denies.

Robert Mugabe, former prime minister and president of Zimbabwe, meets then-British prime minister Margaret Thatcher on October 1st, 1988. Photograph: Tim Ockenden/PA Wire
Robert Mugabe, former prime minister and president of Zimbabwe, meets then-British prime minister Margaret Thatcher on October 1st, 1988. Photograph: Tim Ockenden/PA Wire

1987 - He becomes president with sweeping executive powers after changes to the constitution and signs a unity pact with Nkomo, who becomes one of his two deputies.

1990 - Zanu-PF and Mugabe win parliamentary and presidential elections.

1998 - An economic crisis marked by high interest rates and inflation sparks riots.

2000 - Zimbabweans reject a new constitution in a referendum, Mugabe’s first defeat at the ballot box.

- Thousands of independence war veterans and their allies, backed by the government, seize white-owned farms, saying the land was illegally appropriated by white settlers.

2001 - The United States puts a financial freeze on Mugabe’s government in response to land seizures, beginning a wave of Western sanctions. Mugabe’s relationship with the West, especially the US and Britain, never recovers.

2002 - Mugabe wins a disputed presidential vote, which observers condemn as flawed.

- Zimbabwe is suspended from the British Commonwealth over accusations of human rights abuses and economic mismanagement. Mugabe pulls his country from the grouping the following year.

2008 - Hyperinflation reaches 500 billion per cent, the nadir of an economic implosion that forces millions of people to leave the country, many to neighbouring South Africa.

- Mugabe loses a presidential vote but wins the run-off after opponent Morgan Tsvangirai withdraws citing violence against his supporters by security forces and war veterans. A power-sharing agreement is signed.

2010 - Media reports say Mugabe is seriously ill with cancer, speculation that continues in following years.

2013 - Mugabe wins another disputed presidential vote. Western observers site multiple accounts of electoral fraud.

2016 - Protesters led by a pastor stage the biggest show of defiance against Mugabe in a decade, prompting speculation about life after the veteran leader.

2017 - Mugabe is forced to resign in November following an army coup and is replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man he had fired as his deputy two weeks earlier.

2018 - Mugabe is seen in public for the first time since leaving power. He berates his former Zanu-PF allies and backs opposition leader Nelson Chamisa on the eve of an election.

2019 - Mugabe travels several times to Singapore to seek medical treatment as pictures of the gaunt, gray-haired former leader circulate on social media.

– Reuters