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Paperback Our Votes, Our Guns : Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe Book

ISBN: 158648186X

ISBN13: 9781586481865

Our Votes, Our Guns : Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe

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Book Overview

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...

Customer Reviews

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A well told tragedy that still continues

This book puts into context better than anything I have read the major tragedy that has been occurring in Zimbabwe for over twenty years. The parallels with the Congo (as covered in the excellent book "In the footsteps of Mr Kurtz" on Mobutu's kleptocracy in Zaire) are matched here by the story of how a wealthy and well developed colony after a crippling war of independence came under Mugabe's control. The saddest aspect is while matters started very promisingly with the country ripe for a muti racial experiment and very similar to South Africa, the early use of force to remove tribal opposition was then applied unremmitingly to the white minority with fatal long term effects on the country's economy. That inequality existed and changes were needed on land distribution were clear - the redistribution when it occurred was done in such a manner that not only were the whites permanently alienated but the corruption and lack of planning as to what was to replace has had fatal consequences with mass poverty, unrest and a wealthy autocratic elite destroying the future prospects for the poorer native populace of the country. The control of every facet by Mugabe's Zanu Party whenever challenged has been met with violence from local opposition using North Korean trained cadres to outright intimidation of the judiciary, one of the real heroes in this story. A very well told and researched history.

A moving portrayal of the lies of Mugabe

When Mugabe and his band of guerrilla emerged from the jungle in 1980 and took the reigns of power in Zimbabwe(at that time RHodesia) the wordl breathed a sigh of relief. For a decade the white minority government of Ian Smith had been fighting a losing struggle against Mugabes Marxists. The Rhodesian government had 'declared independence' from England in order to continue the war which England had encouraged the government to negotiate a ceasefire and allow for a majority government.We all thought that Zimbabwe would now have equal rights for all. This book details what happaned and the horror that Mugabes country has become. Mugabe promised land reform, what he meant was that he would take every inch of white land and reward it to his 'boys'. His followers grabbed the white land and then they did nothing with it and soon a country that had been exporting grain and food was on the brink of national starvation. Mugabe could have devided the land fairly and could have given it to the blacks who had farmed it for years under white rule but instead he gave it to his corrupt 'boys' and ruined the economy.Next Mugabe became a dictator. He had fought against what he called white dictatorship but he then became a dictator himself, like all communists who promise freedom but only bring slavery to their nations, Mugabe quickly outlawed freedom of the press and civil rights and imprisoned those that spoke against him.THis wonderful book written by a man who was born in Rhodesia tells the story of idealism gone awry. Her majestys government in England that had orginally called for a settlement now has snactions on Mugabe and opposes him at every turn because England knows the Mugabe is a viscous dictator worse then the white government he replaced. The people are Zimbabwe are starving. They were better off under Smith when at least they had some freedoms and food. Now the country is a disaster and this book is one of the few to expose the truth. A riveting tale, a must read for africa buffs. A balanced account that reveals the suffering of average africans.

Response to Rubendall review

As the editor of Our Votes, Our Guns I just wanted to correct Robert Rubendall's review which says that the author seems never to have visited Zimbabwe and done no original reporting. The author was in fact born in what was then Rhodesia and has spent his life covering the country, visiting many times and spending months at a time there. He could not source some of what he reports in order to protect other Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwe's downward spiral via dictator Mugabe

Zimbabwe (formerly known as Rhodesia) started its existence in 1980 with much hope and fanfare from around the world. Indeed, the talk by the leader Mugabe pointed towards a peaceful, prosperous nation that even impressed former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith. However, it soon became apparent that Mugabe and his cohorts had lied to any and all who would listen. Mugabe waged (and continues to wage) a brutal campaign against fellow Zimbabweans (black and white) that includes intimidation, torture, and murder. He ignores court rulings he doesn't agree with and rewards cronies with ill-gotten money. In short, Zimbabwe became yet another despot-ruled nation fulfilling Ian Smith's predictions. Mr. Meredith covers the agony of Zimbabwe in good detail and paints a vivid portrait of the wickedness of Mugabe and his regime.

"A cartoon figure of the archetypical African dictator"

So said Archbishop Desmond Tutu of Robert Mugabe. This is coming from a church leader about someone who often publicly boasts about being a devout christian. If the Archbishop's criticism doesn't bother Mugabe then maybe Nelson Mandela's dissmissive epithet - calling the man "Comrade Bob" hits more to home. Mandela throws cold water on Mugabe's previously illustrious reputation as a freedom fighter and liberator of his people.Mentioning Mandela is an appropriate starting point for discussing OUR VOTES,OUR GUNS because the author - Martin Meredith - is best known for his authoritative biography of Mandela. Here he applies his writing skills and powers of observation with the same results - a thorough analysis with keen insights into the personality. So who is Robert Mugabe and how is it that from a position of world acclaim as a hero at Zimbabwe's independence in April, 1980 - inhereting "a jewel" as Meredith quotes another African leader as telling him - he has sunk to such a low position today? Meredith says that a lot of this can be explained by over optimism and excessive expectations. In the 1970's he was the guerilla leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union/Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) which wrested control of Rhodesia from the minority, white-ruled government of Ian Smith. Following independence Mugabe emerged as a statesman. He was committed to reconciliation with whites and Meredith refers to Mugabe's speech on Independence day. He promised to "draw a line through the past" and said "if yesterday I fought you as an enemy, today you have become a friend and ally with the same national interest..." Meredith argues however that the hope in Mugabe as a model of the new African leader was badly misplaced. He says that Mugabe was never committed to democracy and his rule increasingly reflected his autocratic tendencies. The book is very clear however in showing that Zimbabwe is not a one-party state. It is a functioning democracy with the required basics of regular elections, a free press and an independent judiciary. Mugabe also has achieved some notable successes. In keeping with their president's love of education (Mugabe has seven degrees) Zimbabwean's are generally very well educated and highly literate. The country has one of the highest rates of literacy in Africa (nearly 90%). Despite being an avowed marxist and thus seeking radical solutions to economic problems, and his very ugly attack on Matabeleland where his army killed thousands of civilians in an attempt to quash dissent, Mugabe could nevertheless always count on international and domestic support (especially in rural areas). In recent years his support both at home and abroad has evaporated, largely due to his increasingly violent land reform policies. 'Reconciliation' is no longer a word in Mugabe's vocabulary and he now calls Zimbabwe's white farmers racists and neocolonialists. Meredith goes into all the social, economic, and political underpinnings of Mugabe's 22 year rul
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