Zimbabwe President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, 93, was born on February 21, 1924. He has served as President for nearly 30 years, since December 1987, making him the world’s oldest head of state. Mugabe, who helped free the country from white minority rule in 1980, has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence. Prior to his election as President, he served as Prime Minister of the country from 1980 to 1987.
Zimbabwe’s Army on Wednesday reassured citizens that the country was not facing a “military takeover”, and that Mugabe was “safe and sound”, reported The Associated Press. It added that forces are targeted “criminal around him”. The development comes a week after Mugabe fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa after accusing him of plotting to take over. On Tuesday, vehicles with armed soldiers were seen outside Harare, the capital, sparking rumours of a coup.
Mugabe came into the spotlight in the 1960s, when he was the leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which resisted the conservation white-minority government of Rhodesia. Mugabe spent 10 years (1964-74) in prison in Rhodesia during the resistance. In 1974, after he was released, Mugabe joined the fight during the Rhodesian Bush War from bases in Mozambique.
After the war in 1979, Mugabe emerged a hero in many Africans’ eyes. He won the 1980 general election and was elected Prime Minister.
In 1987, Mugabe was declared executive president by the Parliament of Zimbabwe, combining the roles of head of state, head of government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He also had power to dissolve the parliament.
Mugabe joined hands with Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, after they agreed to share power in 2008. Five years later, he beat Tsvangirai after gaining 61 per cent of the vote and was elected President for a seventh term.
On January 30, 2015, Mugabe was elected the Chairperson of the African Union (AU).