It’s Robert Mugabe’s 90th birthday today. The president is hailed as a revolutionary hero by some of Zimbabwe while the West considers him a tyrant, guilty of corruption and widespread human rights abuses.
It is not surprising that a man who polarises opinion so sharply should possess a presumptuous and outlandish turn of phrase. He’s been in power for more than thirty years and is the second oldest leader in the world. His eccentricities remain as unrivalled as his control of Zimbabwe. Not only has he compared himself to Jesus Christ and to Hitler but he delivers his outrageous assertions wearing clothes that would give the most flamboyant of grandfathers a run for their money. He’s like a satirical sketch character. Who else could get away with saying things like this?
On Britain: "Britain is a very cold, uninhabitable country with small houses.”
On gay people: "We ask, was he born out of homosexuality? We need continuity in our race, and that comes from the woman, and no to homosexuality. John and John, no; Maria and Maria, no. They are worse than dogs and pigs. I keep pigs and the male pig knows the female one.”
On gay rights: "It is not worthy of discussion. Those that engage in such acts are insane. We cannot tolerate this, otherwise the dead will rise against us."
On Hitler: "I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for."
On white people: "The only man you can trust is a dead white man."
On being better than Jesus: “I have died many times - that's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once.”
On cricket: "Cricket civilises people and creates good gentlemen I want everyone to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen."
On Tony Blair: "Is it not obvious that Britain, under the regime of Tony Blair, has ceased to respect the Charter of the United Nations?"
On Blair's tactics: "The UK set gay gangsters on me"
On criticism: " Only God, who appointed me, will remove me -- not the MDC, not the British. Only God will remove me!"
His public remarks have been so preposterous it is almost laughable. Almost. The arrogance of all tyrants appears comic to the West, who aren’t suffering the daily darkness of being ruled by a despot. The government’s security forces have been accused of torture, the basic rights of freedom of expression and assembly are seriously curtailed and being gay is illegal.
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