The leaders wanted him to leave the room so they could deliberate in private. He refused.
Be it with his fellow African leaders, the West or the Zimbabwean opposition, the 84-year-old Mugabe has outmaneuvered — and outlasted — his critics for more than a quarter of a century, through a careful calibration of the international reaction to and domestic effect of his actions. As close as the end sometimes seems, Mugabe has managed to survive.
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To help understand his staying power, one need only rewind to the 1980s and the massacres of his early years in power, when he was a conquering hero who had thrown out the white minority regime of Ian Smith.
Mugabe’s political opponents were the chaff. The spring rains were supposed to signify the golden era of a one-party state (or rather, a one-man state).
Western leaders and news media ignored the massacres of the “dissidents” by the army’s crack Five Brigade in Matabeleland province in southern Zimbabwe. Some estimates put the dead at 20,000.