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Robert Mugabe:
"One shouldn't talk from the top of the hill and looking down on another country"
 real 28k

UK Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain
"Ministers like myself... fought for his freedom"
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Robert Mugabe
" I can never concede that they have the capacity to win"
 real 28k

Monday, 26 June, 2000, 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK
Mugabe vs the 'arrogant little fellows'
Robert Mugabe
"Who brought human rights to Zimbabwe? We did."
Just before the elections in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe spoke frankly to David Dimbleby. The exclusive interview was used as part of the BBC Two documentary Smith, Mugabe and the Union Jack. Extracts from the interview follow:

On whites in Zimbabwe

We have not stopped singing to the theme of unity and the theme of love. Even the whites are free to live here. But they must change. Your kind - the British kind - are very difficult to change. We rate them as the most conceited, the most arrogant, the most selfish and the most racist in our situation. I do not mean you Mr Dimbleby, this is not you in person - but the ones we have here.


I would have been an [Idi] Amin if I was racist

We ourselves should not ever ever... as government, as a party, as individuals within the party, be seen to be acting in a racist way, blacks against whites, we refuse to do that. The whites wouldn't be here if I was like that. I would have been an [Idi] Amin if I was racist... we can't do things like that.

On his disappointment that Harold Wilson's government in London did not take a firmer line against Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965:

We didn't get from Wilson the assurances we wanted. We asked him would the British Government use troops. He said no. Then we knew that UDI would take place. We said why wouldn't you use troops? He said because the British public wouldn't stand for it.

On Rhodesian army attacks on Zanu guerrilla bases:



Of course we didn't want Lancaster [settlement talks] anyway - we wanted to carry on fighting

You get so aggrieved and it works on you and works on your emotion in such a way that you can never forgive the perpetrators of an action of this nature.

On the Lancaster House peace talks in 1979:

I didn't believe that Lancaster was going to yield anything, to tell you the truth, and of course we didn't want Lancaster anyway - we wanted to carry on fighting.

On the attitude of rival leader Bishop Abel Muzorewa:

We were fed up because they were just saying "yes yes yes yes" - baa baa black sheep. I was saying, "what are you people except obedient servants saying yes yes yes to the master?"

On intimidation before Zimbabwe's first election:

I don't think our people were intimidating the voters as such, but of course, where people are still confronting each other, you can't do away with some measure of strong action

On security force involvement in the Matabeleland killings in the 1980s:

Even to this day I don't believe it was just the Fifth Brigade which operated and is now being accused of the atrocities I don't think they are the only ones who stand accused if the accusations are sustainable.

On recent violence and land invasions:

Yes, maybe horrifying, but worse could have happened and worse can still happen...

When I went to prison and when I spent all those years in exile during our struggle, I did it to get our land back - and that is precisely what the war veterans are doing. I mustn't be seen as negating myself.

On his government's failure to uphold the law:



[White farmers] suffer that very little inconvenience, against the inconvenience that we have suffered as a people for decades

The law of the land must also work for moral justice - if I lead the people on the land and then get time to bring about law and order then it is a far better proposition, a better approach than one which will pit the forces against the masses of people now occupying the land and there would be greater death greater bloodshed - this is just a little row of trespass.

Elsewhere, those who commit murders are being arrested, those who commit robberies are being arrested, other crimes are being taken care of and there is greater law and order.

Only in the little area of trespass on the farms, where there has in fact been injustice all along by the farmers and if they suffer this very little - shall I say? - inconvenience of their land being occupied. And they suffer that very little inconvenience, against the inconvenience that we have suffered as a people for decades.

On the conditions which the UK has attached to financial assistance for land reform:

Who brought human rights to Zimbabwe? We did. And [UK Foreign Secretary] Robin Cook is telling the people who actually introduced democracy, who introduced human rights who introduced transparency, the rule of law - telling us that these aspects must be observed by us - the British Government never observed them in respect of Rhodesia.


[Labour party] appear as arrogant little fellows - people who have suddenly come into leadership - who probably never expected to do so.

One shouldn't talk from the top of the hill and looking down on another country one believes to be down the hill and therefore talking down to it.

Mrs Thatcher never made a U-turn. She came here in a very humble way - tough as she was, iron lady that she was - knowing that certain situation require that discussions be held.

Not so Labour. They have taken an attitude that they are greater than ourselves, more noble than ourselves - which I doubt - and therefore we must be treated like midgets.

They appear as arrogant little fellows - people who have suddenly come into leadership - who probably never expected to do so.

On homosexuality - and being targetted in London by gay activist Peter Tatchell:

I understand they [the Labour party] have gays amongst them but that's their own affair. What we do not want and desire is for them to foist their own inhuman tendencies on us...

It is our criticism of homosexuality here at home that has offended them. I had a meeting with them that lasted two hours - I thought it a very friendly meeting. The following morning he [Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain] had his Mr Tatchell ambush me outside the hotel. I felt I was assaulted but he just managed to put his hand here on this arm.

I don't want to bring [Tony] Blair into this but I know Peter Hain is reputed to be gay and to be the wife of Tatchell, that's what the papers say. And so if the following morning the husband ambushed me and the previous night I had had discussions with the wife, the conclusion I come to is that the two had discussed it.

(Peter Hain dismissed this as "the kind of nonsense that unfortunately that only President Mugabe in his state and his attitude to life could utter or remotely believe".)

On the relevance of the liberation struggle to today's politics:

The younger ones will say "we know nothing about this liberation struggle, don't talk history to us what we want is money, incomes, your government is no good for us".

But the majority of the people will not do that.

On the possibility of an opposition election victory:

That probability should never be entertained. I can never concede that they have the capacity to win so in dreamland perhaps yes, I could see them in power but when I get up I say that is a dream, never a reality. Why do you want us to talk about dreams now?

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See also:

25 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe poll result warning
24 Jun 00 | Africa
High turnout in Zimbabwe poll
25 Jun 00 | Africa
Eyewitness: Change in the air
26 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Mugabe urged to accept people's will
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