070_Global12_InFocus_Zimbabwe

Global 13

In FocusZimbabwe Mugabe: villain or hero? To say that Robert Mugabe receives a bad press from the international media is an understatement, but his reputation is now being put under the microscope by a new documentary which aims to bring balance to the legacy of one of Africa’s most influential – and controversial – leaders A new documentary about Robert Mugabe last December to three standing ovations. Veterans’ Association, the governor of the boldly questions whether the Zimbabwean “Here’s a man who was nominated for a reserve bank and ordinary citizens. president is the much-maligned “despot” of Nobel Peace prize in 1981, given a knight- The film shows the historical reasons for international headlines, or an ordinary man hood in 1994 and yet in the UK, he is a vil- the land redistribution conflicts that trig- who instils pride in his people for his re- lain. I wanted to find out what was behind gered sanctions by the West, and the result- fusal to bow to pressure from the West. the headlines,” Agyemang says, “to bring ing hyperinflation and currency collapse. It In 2007, Roy Agyemang, a Ghanaian- balance to the story. In the film, you hear follows the rise of the Movement for Demo- British film-maker, arrived in Harare to comments unheard in the Western news cratic Change (MDC) – suspected of being a interview Zimbabwe’s octogenarian presi- media before – people talking favourably Western puppet – and the elections at which dent, Robert Mugabe. Agyemang’s crew about Mugabe. I wanted to get a sense from Mugabe loses to Morgan Tsvangirai. These was the first Western film crew to whom people on the ground to what extent does he are declared fair by independent observers – Mugabe had given extensive access. But actually have support?” even the ballot boxes are translucent – but Agyemang’s English accent made those Agyemang doggedly trailed Mugabe in were seen as a missed opportunity to remove closest to Mugabe suspicious, and it was public and private – at ecstatic congresses Mugabe. Young white Zimbabweans com- only after two years of filming him that he and rallies, on Colonel Qadhafi’s luxurious plain about international propaganda: “More finally got his interview. His feature film, private jet, being groomed for an election people were killed in the Kenyan elections, Mugabe: Villain or Hero?, vividly mix- broadcast. He links this footage with com- yet there was no cry for intervention there.” ing new material with well-chosen archive ments from ministers, journalists, political The interview finally happens. Mugabe footage, made its sold-out debut in London commentators, the chairman of the War elegantly turns the single question to his own Credit: © Under The Radar Films Ltd. Roy Agyemang, the director ofMugabe: Villain or Hero?, greets President Mugabe prior to an interview 70 lwww.global-briefing.org first quarter 2013global


Global 13
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