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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good., 17 July 2009
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This review is from: Mugabe: Power, Plunder, and the Struggle for Zimbabwe: Power, Plunder, and the Struggle for Zimbabwe's Future (Paperback)
This book is a detailed chronicle of Mr. Mugabe. From his early childhood, where his father's desertion and the death of his child seemed to have had a profound effect on him right up until his preparations for the 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections.

All the critical events in the life of Mugabe are covered:
- His Jesuit education and his beginnings as a radical rebel, influenced by Marxism.
- His imprisonment and his attainment of various educational degrees
- The surprising brief period of hope and stability when he first took power in 1980.
- The mass exodus of Zimbabweans throughout his rule.
- His links with North Korea and the creation of the 5 Brigade (the Gukurahundi)
- His instigation of a new elite, his political henchmen and his deals with war vets.
- His castigating of former colonial powers, the entire western world and rampaging of white farmers culminating in the third chimurenga.
- His pyschotic and systematic bull dosing of people out of their own homes (Operation Muramatsvine)

What's clear from this book is that Zimbabwe was never really a stable democracy. It was an apartheid styled state which created many Mugabe's. Then almost immediately as Mugabe's Zanu-PF took control, the media and populace at large where intimidated, cowed and eventually beaten by a state that had no shame committing all sorts of human rights abuses.

There are some interesting post - colonial points. Even though one can make all the proverbial critisms of the colonialists, Mugabe should have worked with them. For example he should have kept them on their farms while the country worked through much needed reform (even several African leaders were advising he should do this). But, Mugabe's priorities were perverse and only based on keeping his power which meant he instead castigated the whites at any opportunity, blaming them for every single one of Zimbabwe's problems in an effort to deflect any criticism aimed at him. And of course, anyone who disagreed was in cahoots with the nasty post-colonials and hence a traitor.

Every page has a plethora of facts - almost too much. If you don't know too much about Zimbabwe, it's quite easy to get confused. I found myself
cross-checking with Google and wikipedia several times. In fact one of book's major shortcoming is that, despite the author's obvious erudite and sapient knowledge of Zimbabwe there are no references for all the facts. Surprising.

In addition, beyond all the information, there isn't much critical insight, value add or arguments from the author. Some of it is very interesting, particularly South African coverts operations to destabilise the Zanu-PF government but it would be nice if the book had some arguments that weren't obvious or even if it posed some thought provoking questions particular in the role of Western World in relation to Zimbabwe.

My only other criticism as most people wouldn't be au fait with Zimbabwe's democracy (if you could call it that) I think clearer distinctions should have been made between the various types of elections (again if you could call them that) in Zimbabwe, namely: parliamentary, senate, presidential elections and of course the referendums. The crucial points of course pertaining to Zimbabwean elections are Mugabe's rigging of elections, his intimidation of voters and political opponents, but it would help to put things in perspective if the book explained what way Zimbabwe's democracy is supposed to work and not just that it was been subverting by a lunatic. I think this would aid the reader's understanding of Zimbabwe, particular the times when elections have been close to each other for example, in the year 2000 when Mugabe lost a referendum but won parliamentary elections the same year.
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