#mugabe speaks to the BBC

via Mugabe speaks to the BBC 18/04/2014 by Roy Agyemang NewZimbabwe

IF there is one thing Robert Mugabe dislikes as much as “ruffian” British politicians, it is journalists working for the British media – especially the BBC.

Accusing the corporation of one-sided reporting and of being a mouthpiece for the UK government, the controversial Zimbabwean President had refused to grant an interview to any journalist from the broadcaster for14 years.

Mugabe’s government says it “restricted” the BBC from reporting inside the country. The BBC, arguing that its robust journalism merely covered factual events that the Harare government wanted hidden, says it was “banned”.

The standoff ended when my colleague Simon Breen and I approached the BBC to make a programme on Mugabe to coincide with his 90th birthday. The BBC agreed.

In an act of shuttle diplomacy that made me feel like a UN diplomat, I had to convince President Mugabe to come to the table.

Persuading him to sit down to talk for a previous, independent documentary had taken me two years; this time I had to do it in 10 days.

The first hurdle was the BBC insisting on its own correspondent for the interview. The team knew scrutiny of the programme would be extremely high, so using an unknown face would be tricky.

David Dimbleby was the last BBC reporter to interview Mugabe, in 2000.

To suggest he should sit with another “BBC face”? I knew he wouldn’t go for that. Just as Mugabe was nervous about the BBC, the broadcaster was nervous about me – and not without merit. I have spoken at Oxford and Harvard criticising Western reporting on Zimbabwe.

I have also gone on record praising Mugabe. Contrary to Western opinion, many in Africa regard him as a hero. He still remains popular with a large part of the Zimbabwean population. But I also criticise him. Making that clear to the BBC, eventually it nervously agreed.

I flew to Harare in mid-February, playing on the trust I had built up with Mugabe over 10 years. He decided to do it. However, the 10-day schedule the BBC had set was unrealistic. Ten days passed, no interview.

Twenty-one days passed, and still no interview. Another week went by. I was booked to fly back to London without the interview. The day before I was due to fly back, I attended a birthday event hosted by the civil service.

I disregarded protocol and “doorstepped” Mugabe. He told me not to panic, and promised he would do the interview.

“Don’t worry, I will give you time.”

A few days later, I got the call from State House. The interview was scheduled to last one hour. It went on for three hours and 54 minutes. Here’s some of what he had to say. He didn’t hold back.

Mugabe on the UK “What has happened to Britain? They have grown small in mind. That wisdom which the likes of Churchill had, where is it? You can’t see it in people now with gay habits – shame on them.

I pity the one lady I admire, the Queen, that she is in these circumstances, I’m sure down deep she must be groaning [at] the loss of values in Britain. They’ve gone to the dogs. Countries don’t respect Britain any more. Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the world. Which world? [David] Cameron … doesn’t talk much, but he acts in the same way as [George W] Bush.”

On Labour’s relationship with him after 1997 “When you had these ruffians coming, coming into power from Labour … Mr Blair [was] wanting to reverse the entire process and not willing to say anything about the land-reform programme in terms of the compensatory aspect of it.

Finally [he was] telling us that Britain has no obligation to former colonies. What is there in the mind of Blair? A tail of Mr Bush. Liars on Zimbabwe, a liar on Iraq.”

On President Barack Obama “I see him as a person who has been trying as much as possible to please the white section of America and to avoid any relationship that might be construed as being racist. If you can’t deviate then you can’t serve the interests of the blacks who are suffering, who are yearning for justice in America.”

On being viewed by the West as the one of the worst villains of modern history “It doesn’t bother me at all. The West is not objective, far from it. We have seen how the West comes to its judgements.

There appears to be a kind of overall dementia affecting the minds of the West.” ‘Our World, Mugabe at 90’ will be broadcast on the BBC News Channel at 9.30pm on Saturday, and across the Easter weekend.



  • comment-avatar

    Did the Beeb need to stoop this low?

    Mugabe destroys everything in his path.
    The economy.
    Rule of law.
    The people.

    Now they grant interviews to a tyrant?
    Maybe the guy is right afterall.
    Britain has gone to the dogs.

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    Rwendo 9 years ago

    With Mugabe, actions speak louder than words. As a nation, we are very familiar with both Mugabe’s words and actions. Unlike the reporter, we haven’t had to grovel about to get his thoughts on matters Zimbabwean. We have lived his opinions for 34 years. The results speak louder than a thousands interviews ever could.

    Three hours of Mugabe pontificating about what is wrong with the UK or Obama amongst other topics, when he has ruined his own country sounds hard to swallow but no doubt easy to expel.

    The interviewer was kept hanging around for more than a month for his journalistic “scoop” – during which time his investigative skills left him still believing Mugabe remains “popular with a large part of the Zimbabwean population..” Yes, 65% of voters, in fact.

    That seals it. I for one will not be wasting my time watching or listening. Seen it, heard it, lived it.

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      Taizivei 9 years ago

      Who cares about your opinion ..you probably never participated in trying to get things right in Zimbabwe ….We care so we will watch & listen …it’s our Zimbabwe .

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      Rwendo, if you are truly Zimbabwean, regardless of what we all experienced, you would watch the interview, that’s the way we are, we all have an inane natural intelligent curiosity and dislike of Mugabe and his cohorts. I actually googled BBC World News – Our World Mugabe at 90 to day – 4 days later after this interview was mentioned to me in passing by a Zimbabwean living in the UK and soon to immigrate to Australia.

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    Jimbo 9 years ago

    I just hope that Roy asked Mugabe pertinent questions about the massacre in Matebeleland where the 5th Brigade slaughtered 20,000 innocent civilians. Is Zimbabwe better off since independence in 1980? Definitely not. The country has been looted and pillaged by Mugabe and his cohorts and sadly Zimbabwe is a shadow of its former self. There are continuous power cuts, water shortages and now Mugabe wants to indiginize business with no compensation. Sadly Mugabe does not realize the reality of globalization and Zimbabwe will not attract any FDI whilst the policy of indiginization is in place. Zimbabwe is a mess run by a 90 year old tyrant and there is rampant corruption by Zanu PF which is now endemic. So Mugabe constantly criticizes the west without ever looking internally at the utter destruction he has crested in his own country.

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      Taizivei 9 years ago

      Have you have asked yourself what the Ndebeles did to the Mashonas in the 19th century after trying to invade their country ? … Don’t push this tribal button because if the truth is told …no side will win ….just stick with the economic problems at hand . You are probably ignorant of the real Zimbabwe story !! Do you know about the 9 British tourists that were killed during the dissident menace ..don’t start !!

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        Jono Austin 9 years ago

        Have you asked yourself what the shona did to the khoisan before the Ndebele arrived. Massacred or driven into the desert.

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        Here we go again, the historic tribal feud between the Ndebele and Shona tribes. It doesn’t take much to revive this issue, it’s like the Rwanda/Burundi rivalry.

    • comment-avatar

      Well said Jimbo and more.

  • comment-avatar

    the only reason Mugabe spoke to BBC is that he hungers for legitimacy even if Britain has gone to the dogs. Despite the hypocrisy of talking to these gay gangsters, Mugabe remains a thieving illegitimate coward.

    • comment-avatar

      Nzou, the mere fact Robert Mugabe has got away with murder literally and metaphorically speaking, he still rules his dormain and the British government is powerless to over-throw his regime. You must admit, however – grudgingly, much of what Mugabe said was true. Who wouldn’t want legimacy if you were/are a parahia(sic) State and if you were offered an international platform to ‘have your say’ be it from a ‘broken LP’. We all know Mugabe has foot and mouth desease and loves to wag his finger at Britain lod and clearly.

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    Rwendo 9 years ago

    Well said Nzou. This hunger for recognition and acceptance from the British is intriguing. An armchair psychologist might even speculate as to whom Britain and what Blair’s rejection have come to represent within his very complex psyche, given what we are told about his childhood.

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    Bingo Wajakata 9 years ago

    Have no time to watch this rubbish, I will rather watch Tom and Jerry with my grandchildren, its much more relaxing than watch a geriatric who destroyed the hopes of millions of people repeat the same rubbish as if he was a broken LP record.

    • comment-avatar

      Well, Bingo you did watch the geriatic being interviewed and would bet my bottom penny, you watched it to the end.
      🙂 🙂

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    Bingo, I agree with you I would get more sense and pleasure watching T&J with my grandchildren, though the youngest one prefers Peppa Pig (second rate to T&J in my opinion). Re Mugabe the only time he should be interviewed is by the ICC in the Hague. Only then would we get the truth and watch him pay for all his sins.

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    It is time for Mugabe and Africa to close their doors; let’s see where EU to go and feed, once Africa unite, they close their doors and see who will die hungry!!

    • comment-avatar
      roving ambassador. 9 years ago

      We are now giving aid to the Europeans. We are feeding their staving masses, Reality check , BONG!!!!!

  • comment-avatar

    roving ambassador. TRUE!!

  • comment-avatar

    UMAARI/roving whatsname,

    What have you guys been smoking?

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    moyokumusha 9 years ago

    Just seen the interview and what a waste. This British living Ghanian was just a stooge to up Bob’s image and he failed as he did not address the real issues at hand, All he did was give Bob another chance to legitimise his take over of the land and when asked if Bob was aware of the need to import food all he said was yes but our people are healthier now as they have to eat more greens. But, look at Bob at his birthday party and in the interview and you will see he does not have long to go, he is very gaunt and battling to stay alert and I would bet there were lots of edits on the final tape for broadcast.

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      The Ghanian born British journalist had no option but to butter-up Mugabe and you’ll probably find most of the searching and uncomfortable questions were edited out before he was allowed to leave the country. I can understand from the point of Mugabe’s poor international image and biased BBC reporting over the past years.

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    Tom, then you are stooges, whether sarcastic or not, the words have already passed and documented. You don’t believe EU is fed by Africans!

  • comment-avatar
    munzwa 9 years ago

    Same old sh#t, when will we get mugabe on hard talk???

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    As a Zimbabwean and now living in Britain, I can understand why the BBC has been banned from reporting in that country. The BBC has had a warped agenda in favour of the views of the British government of the day since the days of the previous white Smith government. The Rhodesian Front headed by Ian Douglas Smith also banned the BBC from reporting in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and for good reason.

    As much as I hated the idea of agreeing with Mugabe on a number of issues relating to his views on Britain/Zimbabwe, I found myself, strangely, in agreement with Mugabe.

    * Britain is greatly diminished in numerous aspects in the modern world. World influence, economy, education, honesty, military strength, morals, religious belief system, fairness, political correctness gone mad, corruption in government and the banking system, unfairness in the tax system, rewarding the idle etc etc – the powers that be have lost its way. Mugabe was right there is an amnesia accompanied by a form of leadership and media dementia/alzheimer’s desease and, from my stance is sliding into an abyss and sadly, not a world ruler anymore.
    * However, Mugabe even though direct as always in pointing out Britains failings, is suffering with the exact illness both literally and figuratively speaking.
    Corruption is rife in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and he seems to be unaware or couldn’t care a less how his actions over the last 15 years in particular, have impoverished the country and its people and displaced millions of Zimbabweans of all races who had no option but to up-root to foreign lands to ekk out a living and in most instances, to support their families left behind. This situation is untenable and Mugabe with his cohorts feel it’s their God-given right to run the country for as long as they live, in whatever manner, as though they own every inch and every business establishment and every body on the land and sadly, there’s nothing that can be done, they are in absolute control.
    * If the British government is honest, it will concede handing the country over in 1980 to Mugabe, knowing full well the elections were flawed and the late Lord Soames publically stated this. This weakness by the British government, its hatred for Ian Douglas Smith and obssession to bring him down along with the desire to please all and sundry at all cost, is responsible by’n large for the present Zimbabwean situation.

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    Petal 9 years ago

    He wants his Knighthood back somone should have asked him about is knighthood!!

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    ZimJim 9 years ago

    I look forward to his interview with “The Grim Reaper”!

    Now THAT will be a doozy! 😉

    No chance of St. Peter even getting close….

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    Petal 9 years ago

    BBC need the courage of CNN Christine Ampour who did not butter him up!!

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      The abduction by muslim extremists terrs of the 200+ Nigerian school girls and developments since, is being reported regularly by the BBC recently, yet, during the long and protracted guerrilla warfare in the late 60’s and 70’s in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Mugabe’s guerrillas abducted thousands of school girls and boys against their will and frog-marched them across the Mozambique border transporting them into other African and USSR satellite countries for indoctrination and warfare training against the Smith government. The hypocritical BBC which tacitly supported the fight to collapse the then Rhodesian government, were conspicuous by their silence of these abductions on an even larger scale than is being experienced in Nigeria.

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    apolitical 9 years ago

    There was a time when the BBC for a good station to listen to for accuracy – today it is so bad and full of propaganda that it is afraid to allow comments on its site.