Robert Mugabe may have left Zimababwe in ruin when he was removed in a bloodless coup in 2017, but he came to power on a surge of optimism during independence in 1980.

With the end of a long and bloody war against the minority white rule in what was until then Rhodesia, there was a sense that the country known as the jewel of Africa had an opportunity to shine.  

Blessed with rich natural resources, a diversified economy, and a  literate population, Zimbabwe seemed poised to outperform all of its neighbours.

And as a frontline state in the Cold War and the struggle against Apartheid South Africa, Zimbabwe enjoyed considerable diplomatic significance. 

Mr Mugabe made early moves to reconcile with…

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