Image Repair: Analysis of President Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s Rhetoric Following Sanctions on Zimbabwe

Advice Chimbarange, Clemenciana Mukenge, John Mutambwa


This paper analyzes the image repair rhetoric used in Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s speeches against sanctions. It focuses on part of his speeches at international forums (2002 to 2007) in his capacity as the president of Zimbabwe. The analysis relies on Benoit’s image restoration theory as a methodological impetus. It is concluded in this paper that Mugabe mostly uses attack the accuser rhetoric to repair his image following accusations of misgovernance and the political sanctions by USA, Australia and the European Union on Zimbabwe. President Mugabe mainly focuses his attack on Tony Blair and George W. Bush whom he accuses of being the chief architects of the sanctions on Zimbabwe. Attack the accuser rhetoric is used to counter the accusations proffered by President Mugabe’s accusers to justify the existence of sanctions. There is also the use of denial of wrong doing, expression of good intentions and offer of corrective action in the speeches. In addition, President Mugabe questions the sincerity of his accusers as champions of democracy themselves. This study concludes that Mugabe, using image repair rhetoric as a strategy, is successful in denying wrong doing and in attacking his accusers. It is also concluded that the rhetoric strategy is a vital persuasive device seen in the manner in which Mugabe’s speeches managed to compel the African Union to maintain its support for the Zimbabwean government.

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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