Rarely-seen archive fuels debate on years of Mugabe misrule

A new documentary film drawing on rarely-seen archive footage from Zimbabwe, has rekindled a debate about President Robert Mugabe's 30-year descent into misrule.

Simon Bright's 80-minute film, Whatever Happened to Robert Mugabe, premiered in South Africa as his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) used a regional summit in Johannesburg yesterday to disavow unity government Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and push for elections as soon as possible.

Opposition leader Mr Tsvangirai, 59, became Prime Minister in 2009 under an agreement brokered by the South African Development Community to end a deadlock caused by Zanu-PF's dissatisfaction at its poor showing in the 2008 election. Zanu-PF told yesterday's summit that the agreement – which envisaged a range of constitutional and electoral reforms in the run up to free elections – was only for two years and has now expired. Some observers say Mr Mugabe, 87, is ailing and Zanu-PF want him well enough to campaign ahead of the next election.

Mr Bright said his film charts the fatherless, Jesuit-educated Mugabe's journey towards becoming Prime Minister of newly-independent Zimbabwe in 1980. It then looks at how a man who was feted by world leaders, including the Queen, ended up being written off as a pariah.

"I come from an activist family,'' said Mr Bright. "I refused to fight in the Rhodesian army and went to England. So when Mugabe came to power, he was a great hero to me, not least because I was able to return to my country. I joined the Agriculture ministry and later made films which were effectively Zanu propaganda.''

Bright's film includes rarely-seen Zanu-PF election broadcasts, including one that shows a car crashing into another as a warning of how badly things can go wrong if you don't vote for Mugabe's party.

Another memorable scene – presented as Africa taking Britain on a merry dance to majority rule – shows Zambia's music-loving President Kenneth Kaunda waltzing with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the end of the 1979 Commonwealth summit in Lusaka. Mugabe is shown in younger days with his popular first wife, Ghanaian Sally Hayfron, who is considered by many to have been a benign influence until her death in 1992.

Mr Bright said: "The first 15 years [of Mr Mugabe's rule] were a series of magnificent achievements, then towards the end of the 1990s things began to change because Mugabe basically decided to stay in power."

Among those featured in Bright's documentary are Zanu founder Edgar Tekere who died last Tuesday. In his last interview, Mr Tekere said Mr Mugabe was strongly influenced by Sally and that, in her absence, he did not have the strength of character to stand up to liberation war veterans' demands for higher pensions. Their agitation for compensation in 1997 directly led to the occupation of hundreds of commercial farms and the departure of thousands of white Zimbabweans.

But another Mugabe critic, former guerilla leader, Wilfred Mhanda, insisted Mr Mugabe was always determined to hold on to power. Mr Mhanda insists the changing world order and Mr Mugabe's consequent creeping obsolescence in the eyes of the West was the biggest determining factor. "He did not change. Circumstances changed. The world no longer would tolerate his excesses," Mr Mhanda said.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey indulge in some racing at a Point to Point
tvNew pictures promise a day at the races and a loved-up Lady Rose
News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Lead Teacher of Thinking School Drive Team and Year 3 Form teacher

Competitive: Notting Hill Prep School: Spring Term 2015 Innovative, ambitious ...

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is currently recruitin...

Year 6 Teacher - January start

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking fo...

Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is urgently re...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past