Explain why Robert Mugabe was regarded as a hero in Zimbabwe in the years 1980 to 1990, but had to face increasing opposition after 1990.

Robert Mugabe’s image began to tarnish to a great extent after the 1990s due to the following reasons:

  • During 1990s the economic problems of Zimbabwe had worsened. After the collapse of USSR, Mugabe quickly abandoned Marxist policies and resorted to free market methods. Also against public opinion, he accepted loans from IMF and even agreed to the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme. This resulted in cuts in public spending on social services and jobs. This also increased difficulties like severe drought, poor harvest and food shortage.
  • The step by his government to allow the squatters to take over white-owned farms created different problems. The lands went uncultivated and later caused food shortage. There was also widespread unemployment in this period. This caused some discontent among the people.
  • Further, Mugabe’s intervention to help President Laurent in the civil war of Democratic Republic of Congo became widely unpopular and was interpreted as his move to save his own investment in that country in the midst of problems in his own country.

Mugabe’s rule became very repressive and dictatorial after 2000 and this led to a rise in anger. This also led to questioning of his winning the elections in June 2000.


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