Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since the country fought and won independence from Britain in 1980. At that time 46.5% of the country’s arable land was owned by approximately 6,000 commercial farmers, while white farmers, who made up less than 1% of the population, owned 70% of the best farming land.
Initially Mugabe, who holds seven college degrees, was a darling to western countries because he supported policies that maintained white minority domination of Zimbabwe’s economy. But in 1997, after the new British government, led by Tony Blair, unilaterally stopped funding the “willing buyer, willing seller” land reform program, the African leader instituted a forced land redistribution program to put Zimbabwe’s resources back into the hands of Black Zimbabweans.
The United States and the European Union did not take too kindly to this, imposing harsh sanctions on Zimbabwe in an attempt to destabilize Mugabe’s administration. Despite the economy-crushing effects of the sanctions, Mugabe remained committed to the idea that Zimbabwe’s land and natural resources belong to its indigenous peoples.
In the July 2013 elections, after a landslide victory, the African head of state said: “We paid the ultimate price for it [freedom] and we are determined never to relinquish our sovereignty and remain master of our destiny. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.”