The leader of Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980, Robert Mugabe (1924-) is one of the longest-serving and, in the latter years of his reign, most infamous African rulers. Trained as a teacher, he spent 11 years as a political prisoner under Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government. He rose to lead the Zimbabwe African National Union movement and was one of the key negotiators in the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, which led to the creation of a fully democratic Zimbabwe. Elected prime minister and later president, he embraced conciliation with the country’s white minority but sidelined his rivals through politics and force. Beginning in 2000, he encouraged the takeovers of white-owned commercial farms, leading to economic collapse and runaway inflation. After a disputed election in 2009 he reluctantly agreed to share some power with the rival Movement for Democratic Change.