New film charts Mugabe’s rise and fall

A documentary that traces President Robert Mugabe’s rise to power, his early promise as a progressive democrat and the octogenarian leader’s subsequent degeneration into a politically intolerant dictator was launched here early this week.


“Robert Mugabe… what happened?” was produced and directed by Simon Bright of Zimmedia, a multicultural film and video production company, which has won a number of international awards for both documentary and fiction.

The film traces Mugabe’s childhood, when he was allegedly dumped by his father to be brought up by his mother, Bona, to his school days and later, his involvement in the liberation struggle, where he was one of the people who broke ranks with Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu to form Zanu in 1963.

It also revisits Mugabe at Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, when he proclaimed national reconciliation, but later killed 20 000 mostly civilian Ndebeles in a bid to crush Nkomo’s party, then the biggest opposition.

The 52-minute-long film also documents Mugabe’s other brutal acts, such as the violent land invasions where hundreds of farm workers were killed and Operation Murambatsvina, which displaced more than 700 000 people and affected 2.5 million others in 2005.

“Twenty years later (after independence), Mugabe launched a civil war, or ‘chimurenga’, against his own people. Over the next decade he destroyed much of what he had fought for and built,” says the commentary.

At the end of the film, Simba Makoni, one of Mugabe’s former close lieutenants, says the documentary accurately captured Mugabe as who he really is.

“The film does justice to tracing the path that Zimbabweans have travelled since 1980 and in exploring the change of Mugabe’s character,” said Makoni.

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