Robert Gabriel Mugabe (21 February 1924 - 6 September 2019) was a Zimbabwean politician and revolutionary leader who was head of state of Zimbabwe from 18 April 1980 to 21 November 2017, starting as Prime Minister before becoming President.
Mugabe was from a poor Shona family from Southern Zimbabwe. He was educated at Kutama College and the University of Fort Hare before becoming a school teacher in various parts of Africa. After becoming angered at the white majority government in Zimbabwe, he became a Marxist revolutionary calling for an independent Zimbabwe controlled by the black African majority. He was convicted for sedition between 1964 and 1974 for making anti-government remarks. Following his release, he fled to Mozambique and became leader of ZANU, leading the militant group through it's fight against the government of Ian Smith in the Rhodesian Bush War. Following the Lancaster House Agreement, he led the re-branded ZANU-PF to victory in the 1980 general election. Despite his support of a socialist society, he largely followed mainstream conservative economic policy as Prime Minister.
Despite efforts for racial reconciliation, Mugabe failed to stop growing white emigration. Relations with opposition group ZAPU also deteriorated, with the Mugabe's 5th Brigade suppressed ZAPU opposition in the Gukurahundi, a campaign resulting in the death of 10,000 people, primarily Ndebele civilians. He also took Zimbabwe to a national stance, participating in the Second Congo War and chairing the Non-Aligned Movement, the OAS and the African Union. He also encouraged redistribution of land to landless Africans from white farmers. Following slow redistribution, he actively encouraged the violent seizure of white owned farmland, resulting in famine and economic decline along with sanctions from Western nations. Despite growing opposition, he was re-elected in 2002, 2008 and 2013 in elections marred with violence, electoral fraud and nationalist zeal from his native Shona voting base. He was ousted by members of his party in 2017 in a coup, forcing him to resign on the 21st of November, where he was succeeded by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He died in a Singaporean hospital in 2019.
Mugabe remains controversial in Zimbabwe, having dominated politics for almost four decades. His supporters praise him as leading Zimbabwe out of colonialism and minority rule, while his critics accuse him of leading a regime responsible for poor economic management, anti-white nationalism, human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.