We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

A different angle on Robert Mugabe

Well it seems to be kick-Mugabe-until-he’s-down time here at Samizdata, and I’d like now to add my little thousand Zimbabwe dollars‘ worth of additional reportage. There’s nothing to link to, because I found out what follows for myself.

A few years ago I and two other persons were cooperating on a project of mutual concern to us. One of my colleagues, the boss of the enterprise, was and still is a good friend of mine. The other, a black lady friend of my friend, I’d not met before. But her face seemed familiar as soon as I met her. Who was it? Some film star? Then … bingo. Robert Mugabe. She was the spitting image of Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe wasn’t her name. She had an English married name and had been in England for the last twenty years or so. So far as I knew, there could be a whole tribe of Mugabe lookalikes out there, and maybe she and he were not in any direct way connected or related. But it turned out, I can’t remember how, that she was Robert Mugabe’s niece. She was in no way responsible for or in involved in the present horrors being suffered by Zimbabwe. She had a life of her own in England. She was also a most likeable, attractive and decent person. But she was also very – how shall I put it? – determined. Once she was set on a course of thought or action, that was it, that was what she was going to think and to do, no matter what.

Such determination as hers can be a virtue in all kinds of circumstances, and I’m sure that many times in her life it was. Wherever events are too uncertain and too fluid for comfort, an individual who knows exactly what he or she is doing and who sticks to it can be a great blessing. Such people can radiate security and safety and certainty like the rays of the sun, especially if what they have decided upon is good in other ways also, but often just because it is at least certain.

But in other circumstances such determination can be a real problem. In the project the three of us were working on, it became a serious liability, for the simple reason that what she had decided upon was wrong – not wicked wrong, you understand, just foolish and mistaken wrong. No matter how much trouble her determination to do things her way and in no other way seemed to the two of us to be causing, and in defiance of the expert guidance we were all getting, she never deviated from – as we and those experts all saw it – folly. That she might be mistaken simply never entered her head. She did things her way and that was it. Nothing could stop her short of overwhelming force, in the form of the refusal of her colleagues to work with her any longer, which is eventually what we had to inflict upon her. At which point she remained convinced that she was the only one in step. She was genuinely baffled at the foolishness of the world in failing to see the wisdom of or to fit in with her preferred methods.

If Uncle Robert Mugabe is anything like Niece Never-you-mind, then any plan for sorting out Zimbabwe that is in any way dependent upon Mugabe coming around to seeing even tiny glimpses of the many errors of his ways is doomed, utterly doomed.

This thought occurred to me as soon as I became acquainted with the Niece and learned who she was, so to speak. Her Uncle has since done nothing to change my understanding of his character. I’m open to persuasion, of course, in the face of evidence to the contrary, but I now believe that he isn’t. Only overwhelming force is going to stop this man.

Death, for example. That would do the trick, whether by natural or artificial causes. An invading army, that would be good. But such things as economic sanctions or condemnation from the Commonwealth, or any other diplomatic attempts at persuasion that are at all diplomatic – forget it.

8 comments to A different angle on Robert Mugabe

  • junior

    What can one say?……

    In London, “Well yes, that is very interesting”.

    In Yorkshire, “E ba gum”.

  • [shudder]

    No one could find this story definitive. It’s one man’s story of a relative. And yet, it’s chilling to read nonetheless.

  • Without any unneccesary unkindness, can you expand a little on the project, how you felt it should have gone, what Mr M’s niece felt was the right course, and the point at which everyone pulled out?

    A very interesting and tantalising anecdote.

  • Brian Micklethwait


    Sorry, but the vagueness about it all in my original posting was deliberate. This good woman may have her faults, but she absolutely does not deserve to be tracked down by anybody, nor even the FEAR of being tracked down if she were even to hear about a more detailed report such as you ask for. I would rather tantalise samizdata readers than risk the slightest possibility of that kind of thing happening.

    Now that Saddam has been toppled, if perhaps not killed, Mugabe is fast becoming one of the top two or three Most Evil Men Alive, and media interest in all aspects of his life however trivial can only grow, as the plight of Zimbabwe worsens. Which it will.

    In other words, for what it may be worth, you’ll just have to take my word for all this. It’s hearsay, and it is hearsay of a sort that, as Dean Esmay justly notes, proves nothing. But it maybe adds a tiny little something to the bigger picture being put together by more substantial reporters and far more substantial reports.

  • Quite understand, Brian.

  • Bruce

    In Texas, the operative phrase is: “He needs killin’.”

  • There is this crazy old woman who lives next door to my wife’s old family home in Leyton, east London. She is also the spitting image of Mugabe, I really didn’t think she was related, but then, I never had a conversation with her so who knows?. She would chant “Halleluya, Halleluya!” over and over, all day and all night and you could hear her through the brick walls.

    Determination and Crazy? – sounds like Mugabe

  • bender


    If she was, please email me.