Robert Mugabe: ‘Sjambok Mzungu’ (Whip of the White Man)


The following article below was originally published by the Sons of Malcolm news blog: 

By Garikai Chengu
May 10, 2012

A young Robert Mugabe once remarked that if you “educate the masses, politicize the masses and instill ideology in the masses then Empire will crumble under the weight of the masses.”

For daring to politicise people Robert Mugabe endured a decade in Ian Smith’s jails. During this time Mugabe continued educating the masses and himself, obtaining several degrees. The world’s most educated Head of State knew that all three revolutions revolve around education: the first that frees the native’s mind. The second that captures the State House and the third that transfers economic power from the white minority to the black majority.

Comrade Mugabe often notes that his greatest weapon in the trenches against white minority rule was the politicised mind of the masses. The comrades on the front line, the villagers that harboured the comrades, the musicians and ideologues that graced all night politicisation vigils or “Pungwes”organised by villagers, the native financiers that bankrolled the vigils and supplies for comrades on the front line – all played a part in liberating Zimbabwean minds and inevitably territory.

Robert Mugabe carried the radicalism and militancy needed to overthrow white minority rule into office and he has consistently applied that same militancy to democratising the economy. This unwavering quest for political as well as economic democratisation is the essence of Mugabeism.

Cde Mugabe’s socialist “Education-For-All” policy adopted at independence – much to the chagrin of the IMF – is the reason why Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa.

A hungry man will gnaw away at his ideals. Whitehall knows this. As such, the British sought to bring down Cde Mugabe’s socialist project by way of illegal economic sanctions. The prevailing level of education amongst Zimbabweans meant that the people knew who their true enemy was. Infact, far from gnawing away at pro-people ideals at the ballot box, Zimbabweans are set to resoundingly re-elect Cde Mugabe in a matter of months.

At independence, a staggering 42% of Zimbabwe’s land area was owned by just 4000 white farmers. Today that land has been divvied up amongst 413,000 black households. Benefiting 1,000,000 people – who have been part of the largest demographic movement in southern Africa in the past decade. A bloodless revolution if ever there was one.

70 per cent of the redistributed land has benefited 270,000 poor rural families and their urban counterparts, who on average have acquired 20 hectares of land.

If President Mugabe has simply dished out this land to “cousins and cronies” as British media would have us believe, then 1 million beneficiaries or 1 million “cousins of Mugabe” will make election night a long one for the British establishment.

Despite recurrent droughts and dry spells and sanctions induced lack of capital, Land Democratisation has been a resounding success. Thanks to new black farmers, today Zimbabwe boasts the fastest growing agricultural sector (19.8%) in the world.

The final chapter in the ongoing struggle for economic independence is Cde Mugabe’s Indigenastion and Economic Empowerment Legislation. Today Zimbabwe also boasts the fastest growing mining sector (44%) in the world and Indigenisation is set to create a Sovereign Mineral Wealth fund. The economic democratisation programme will also transfer 51% ownership of all corporations to the black majority; establish Community Share Ownership Trusts and Employee Share Ownership Schemes.

The National Economic Empowerment board estimates that over the next five years Indigenisation will transfer $3billion dollars from predominantly foreign owners to local employees and communities. Indigenisation is also set to create 1 million jobs. In short, Indigenisation shall re-orient Zimbabwe’s economy to put poor before profiteer.

Robert Mugabe is affectionately known by the common man up and down the African continent as “sjambok mzungu” or “whip of the white man.” The west loathes President Mugabe because his policies have the power to transform Zimbabwe into a truly independent, egalitarian and prosperous socialist nation. Whitehall and Washington also detest Mugabeism because its resource nationalism will invariably encourage neighbours to follow suite.

In short, Mugabeism is an ideology that believes in transferring not only political power from the minority elite to the masses but also an unwavering commitment to the transfer of the means of production – land, minerals and corporations – from the privileged few to the downtrodden many.

Robert Mugabe’s western detractors waste no opportunity to remind the world of his mortality. So much so that the western media’s rather macabre practice of “Mugabe watching” has been elevated to somewhere between a fetish and a creed.

Robert Mugabe’s supporters, however, also waste no opportunity to remind detractors of the irrelevance of President Mugabe’s mortality: a leader that rules by way of politicising the masses, economically empowering the masses and instilling ideology in the masses shall continue to rule from the grave.

Garikai Chengu is a graduate student at Harvard University and author of – The Black Man’s Burden: A manifesto for an African Century, 2013. He can be contacted on


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