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1980: Mugabe's landslide

Robert Mugabe was elected to be the first black prime minister of Zimbabwe on 4 March 1980.

Many whites living in the country were astounded that the man they labelled a terrorist Marxist should win by such a landslide.

And black opposition leader Bishop Abel Muzorewa - previously a favourite to win the election - also expressed concern at the nationalist leader's victory.

But thousands of supporters took to the streets, singing and dancing, to celebrate the former exile's triumph at the polls.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far.

I was thrilled and on cloud nine when ZANU PF won the elections. This was not Mugabe's victory, but for black Zimbabweans. I personally think this was the day all Zimbabweans were born.
Shumba, UK

It was one of the joyful moments of my life. The guerrillas had promised us that we would turn the "Dakota"- a plane used by Rhodesian forces - into a wheelbarrow.

These were wild promises that we wanted to see come true. We sang and I remember my teacher stopping a lesson to shout in praise of the 1980 election results. It marked the end to an era.

I think we lost it maybe because of the wild dreams that we had been taught during the war. We received a lot of donations from all over the world and we had text books in our classrooms.

There seemed to have been a master plan for achieving independence but at the same there seemed to be no master plan for the aftermath.

We failed to note that the people in the West are rich because they work hard all the time to keep the balance between what they spend and what they earn the same. We did the reverse and tilted the beam towards the other side.

Zimbabweans should work for peace as a family and stop feuding. We can fight and win arguments today, but are we going to win forever?
Nhata, UK

This had to be the greatest day in the history of black Zimbabweans. Never again were we to be treated as second class citizens in our own countries.

Twenty-five years on, Zimbabwe is still a vibrant democracy contrary to what the Western media believes. Times are tough but nothing, and I mean nothing will ever make the people of Zimbabwe submit to white minority rule again.
Tendai, Zimbabwe

As a member of the Rhodesian Intelligence community it was patently obvious that the upcoming British supervised independence election was not going to be free and fair.

Mugabe's armed thugs, in the dark of night, visited all the outlying villages saying: "We are the only party that can end the war. If you don't vote for us, the killing will continue. Remember we will know who you voted for and will return and shoot all your family."

The British Government, via Soames the acting Governor, was made aware of this but chose to ignore this intimidation. He had his orders from Whitehall which were probably "Get us out of this mess at all costs!"

Well the "Iron Lady" got her wish, and the people of Zimbabwe live with the consequence today.
Roger James, USA

I remember the emotion of this day - I was in tears. For years we had been fighting this terrorist who had murdered countless numbers of our own fellow countrymen in his bid to terrorise and control the country.

Should we be surprised that he "won" the elections? History (and the West) are trying to portray him as a liberator. I know differently.

I had to help recover, on more than one occasion, the disfigured bodies of those poor innocent black civilians whom he chose to burn alive.

I cannot forgive him or the West for the support they give him. As a result of this I find I now cannot accept, with complete confidence, any of the lessons history chooses to teach us about the Nazis or Iraq.

The media and its interpretation of events is nothing more than a well-oiled propaganda machine on some insidious mission. Who do we turn to now?
Geoff Oliver, UK

The night of the March 4, 1980, I watched the news while I was in Göttingen, West Germany. "Robert Mugabe has just won the elections in Rhodesia," said the newscaster.

As a staunch supporter of ZAPU, I remember this day vividly. When we lost I cried.

Remembering how ZAPU cadres had been killed by ZANLA back in Tanzania, I thought, there would not be peace in Zimbabwe. I had to swallow the bitter pill and move on.

What did that lead to? Gukurahundi massacres of the 80's. Ndebeles like me were terrorised. It's 25 years later and he is still in power.

The country is in shambles, economically and otherwise. And I am in exile once again.

I have never experienced a free Zimbabwe yet. Will it ever come in my life time?
Themba ka Ndlovu, Switzerland/Zimbabwe

I as working as a reporter with Zimbabwe Television on the day Mugabe won the election. I recall I went into the bank to deposit a check. The bank teller was amazed. Everyone else had withdrawn their money, preparing to flee the country.

Most white people believed they would be run out of the country. People had filled their cars with gas and pulled out all their cash to be ready to flee.

I also was producing the country's main TV newscast that night. I received an order from the Ministry of Information to change all references to high level leaders in ZANU-PF (Mugabe's party) to "comrade" instead of "mister".

Our news reader that night was a white woman who was shocked and horrified to be referring to these people on air as "comrades".

It was a very unusual time in that country.
Gary Worth, USA


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