Simon Tisdall’s profile of Robert Mugabe (Rise and fall of intellectual, autocratic lord of misrule, 16 November) provides a very balanced account of the man.
It may be worth adding that Mugabe’s election campaign in 1980, which led him to become president of Zimbabwe, was masterminded by Pratap Chitnis. Previously, Chitnis had organised the 1962 Orpington byelection for the Liberals which resulted in Eric Lubbock’s spectacular victory. The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, of which both Chitnis and I were directors, had supported Bishop Abel Muzorewa when he led the opposition to Ian Smith’s universal declaration of independence by Rhodesia. The trust transferred its help to the Zanu party and its leader. Mugabe himself was deeply aware of the very fractious nature of the rivalry between Zanu and its opponent Zapu, led by Joshua Nkomo. He did not want the result to be a rout for Zanu, which he thought would be too divisive for the country. He therefore asked if the reform trust would also pay for a chief agent to mobilise the campaignNkomo’s campaign, which was agreed.
Given Mugabe’s subsequent dictatorial political career, it is worth citing this early example of an intelligent democratic awareness which he displayed.
Liberal Democrat, House of Lords
• If you “topple” Robert Mugabe, it would seem you are more likely to get Emmerson Mnangagwa, according to Wilf Mbanga’s chilling opinion piece, poignantly located opposite Michael Crapper’s pseudo-palindromic letter (16 November). I have only one thing to say, twice: evil, a sewer of Harare era; ’rah for ewes alive.
Fr Alec Mitchell
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