Zimbabwe: Game's Over for Mugabe, but Not for the Country He Helped Devastate

analysis

With the passing of Robert Mugabe at the age of 95, the evaluations and re-evaluations of his legacy have begun. Start right here.

Back in the mid-1970s, a political scientist friend asked me if I wanted to visit Rhodesia with him to get a sense of the political dynamic and possibilities in the country ruled by Ian Smith's breakaway, pirate regime. At the time, of course, American diplomats were generally not supposed to travel to Rhodesia except in extraordinary circumstances. Accordingly, I asked my superiors if I could take the trip, thinking a first-hand, low-level view of developments might be useful to the State Department. Unfortunately, they rejected my proposed road trip, so I never did see what the country was like, pre-independence.

Rather, for my background at the time, I relied on the writings of social scientists, artists, historians and reporters, and occasional conversations with South Africans familiar with the country. I even spoke with a few (both black and white) who had moved north, rather than continue living in a South Africa, then in the tight grip of Verwoerdian-style apartheid, whenever those people were back in Johannesburg on family visits. That was then; but, 15 years later, things...

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