No country for old man: Mugabe and his wife, November 2017.
PHILIMON BULAWAYO / REUTERS

In a radio broadcast that Robert Mugabe made from exile in 1976, during the guerrilla war he was leading to overthrow white-minority rule in Rhodesia, he set out his views about the kind of electoral democracy he intended to establish once he had gained control of Zimbabwe, as the new state was to be named. “Our votes must go together with our guns,” he said. “After all, any vote we shall have shall have been the product of the gun. The gun which produces the vote should remain its security officer—its guarantor. The people’s votes and the people’s guns are always inseparable twins.”

As Zimbabwe’s leader for 37 years, Mugabe never deviated from this attachment to brute force. Whatever challenge his regime faced, he was always prepared to overcome it by resorting to the gun. So proud was he of his record that he once boasted that in

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