Robert Mugabe, former strongman of Zimbabwe, dies aged 95

And good riddance.

Jus’ wonderin’

Has anyone so totally screwed an economy?

Stalin did actually grow the Soviet one at gross cost. Mao never actually let one develop. Sure, German industry was a bit flat in 1945 but war and all that.

But to actually take an even modestly functioning economy and reduce it to the Stone Age? Perhaps Chavez and Maduro. But Mugabe did worse than the Castros which is a pretty hard target.

Nkrumah didn’t exactly do well in Ghana but even that wasn’t as bad as Zimbabwe.

Any contenders?

41 thoughts on “Finally,”

  1. Obviously Pol Put comes to mind immediately. But there are any number of African dictators, especially from the 70s, who run Mugabe quite close. Perhaps none of them took their country down as far, but then none of them had the great fortune of inheriting Rhodesia.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    I spent 6 months teaching at the School of Signals right after independence. Its a fantastic country and I would have gone to live there had the writing not been on the wall even then.

    What Julia says.

  3. So what have Mugabe, Nkrumah, and Ironman’s ‘any number of Aftican dictators go in common? And maybe, just maybe, Castro, Chavez & Maduro might have a little bit of? (But Pol Pot had none of).

    Answers not required.

  4. Nyerere? Kaunda? I suppose they didn’t openly encourage criminal behaviour. Mobutu managed to do more with his “wealth” than Mugabe. Maybe Amin and Bokassa were almost as bad as Mugabe. It’s a tough call

  5. Amin and Bokassa came to mind, just thinking of Africa. This line of Mnanagwa’s is magnificent, even more so if intentional: “His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten.”

  6. He didn’t do it solo. When South Africa decided Ian Smith wasn’t worth supporting they threatened to cut off supplies especially energy to landlocked Rhodesia. When the Zimbabwean Vets started invading land in 2000, Mbeki was in a position to do the same, if he and the ANC actually believed all the guff about democracy property and prosperity they’d spouted for Western media. Ditto on every dodgy election since. Ditto for the current demagogue, replacing Mugabe, who led the Fifth Brigade (trained by the Norks) against the middle classes of Matabeleland in 1981 killing upwards of 20 000 of his black fellow citizens. South Africa is complicit in Zimbabwe’s destruction.

  7. The only shame–apart from him ever having existed at all–is that he did not meet his merited end at a public hanging.

  8. Rhodesia / Zimbabwe had so far to fall. Despite sanctions and the bush war, Mugabe inherited a strong economy yet he managed to take it to the very bottom. Only Egypt can match it for tourism potential and it should be a major regional agricultural and mining exporter. Hopefully, for the sake of the people of Zimbabwe, it can yet rise from the ashes.

  9. @LGH, South Africa didn’t cut off exports to Rhodesia off their own bat. There was some serious heavy leaning on them to remove an ally that protected their northern border. There were several covert operations with the Rhodesian forces after this.

  10. Gunker: so what? Pressure on Rhodesia resulted in talks, leading to a black government, proving that SA has huge leverage over the place. Zim for the first twenty years was a prosperous place to which whites contributed their capital and skills. Mugabe took the army into the Congo to protect friends’ diamond mines but failed to pay them, the unhappy soldiers were instead bought off with being allowed to invade white farms. New South Africa failed (and continues to fail) to bring pressure to restore the post War of Independence settlement.

  11. “Has anyone so totally screwed an economy?

    Any contenders?”

    Comment here just reinforces white imperialist attitudes.

    I’m sure the objective correct answer should be

    Cecil Rhodes

  12. Sir Cecil’s grave site, close by that of Sir Leander Starr Jameson, at World’s View in the Matopos Hills is a truly awesome place.

  13. Bloke in North Dorset


    Sir Cecil’s grave site, close by that of Sir Leander Starr Jameson, at World’s View in the Matopos Hills is a truly awesome place.”

    Agreed, we used to go out there regularly and the drive along the valley was equally spectacular. When did you visit?

    We got friendly with the owner of the Rhodes Matopas hotel and spent many a happy weekend there.

  14. “Cue gushing obit pieces from the BBC . . .”

    Like Peter Hain on ‘Today’ this morning, whose contribution could be summarised as “Yes, he destroyed the economy but at least he got rid of all the nasty white folks.”

  15. Cecil Rhodes

    I still weep over the prosperous African liberal nation states he destroyed. I bet he nicked all their vibranium too.

  16. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    Meissen Bison

    Yeah Mengistu got a bit of a free pass when the Band Aid/Live Aid guff was going on, seeing as he had created the famine of 1984-5 in the first place.

    Apparently he was so scared of Haile Selassie’s ghost rising up and haunting him that he had the Emperor’s remains buried under 10 feet of concrete.

  17. Francisco Solano López of Paraguay might be a contender. He led his nation into a war against Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina

    “Paraguay lost 25-33% of its territory to Argentina and Brazil, was forced to pay an enormous war debt and to sell large amounts of national properties in order to restore its internal budget. But the worst consequence of the war was the catastrophic loss of population. At least 50% of the Paraguayans died during the conflict “

  18. As a sister in the Queen Alexandra’s Nursing Corps, my aunt was posted to Salisbury during the war, where she met and subsequently married a Rhodesian army officer (as an aside, their youngest child is Nick Price, the golfer).
    She and her husband built up a large textile business there, which I believe ended up employing over 300 people. When UDI occurred in ’65(?), they lost everything to the “locals” and eventually she came back to the UK with very little.
    My aunt was a well spoken and moderate woman, except when it came to describing Mr. Mugabe and his assistants

  19. John Wilkinson: I bet they didn’t lose anything except a little sleep at UDI which kept Rhodesia a largely white classically liberal economy with an independent and often contrary to the establishment judiciary. Things went slowly downhill from 1980 when Mugabe grabbed the reins of newly independent Zimbabwe, then rather quickly after 2001 when the exchequer was empty and he needed to bribe his army.

  20. interestingly ‘People’s QE’/ The Green New Deal as advocated by the Spud lifts its economic policies directly from Mugabe’s Zimbabwe in terms of the belief that money can simply be printed off with no inflationary impact, so if Murphy were ever to gain power he might make Mugabe look like Lee Kuan Yew

  21. I spoke to a Zimbo mate of mine earlier. He was as pissed as a grannies mattress by half eight this morning. Happy days.

  22. I think Castro is probably worse. Cuba was one of the richest countries in the Americas before the revolution. It was ahead of where Zimbabwe was at, 20 years earlier. Not only did it export sugar, but also had a significant tourism industry. And Batista was going to expand that. And think of how much bigger holiday tourism in general is today compared to the late 1950s. There would probably be 2 or 3 airports just to handle the visitors. People wouldn’t talk about going off to Vegas, they’d be going to Havana.

    They’re a broke country that used to barely survive and even then, because the USSR gave them about 1/3rd of their total income.

  23. Bloke in North Dorset


    “Would very much like to go back sometime.”

    Me too but I don’t think it will happen. Victoria Falls was also awesome, even out to f season.

  24. “Has anyone so totally screwed an economy? ”

    The preening sound you hear is Richard Murphy waiting in the wings for his big opportunity to really show you how it’s done.

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