When ousted Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was elected prime minister in 1980, millions took to the streets to celebrate. Thirty-seven years later when he was deposed in a “coup” in November 2017, millions from across the political divide marched in solidarity with the army that overthrew him.
Now, in death, Zimbabwe’s founding leader has once again split public opinion, and as an international lawyer and author Petina Gappah put it, the widespread reaction to his death has revealed starkly the divided legacy he leaves behind.
She writes in The Guardian;
“From one viewpoint he is Zimbabwe’s founding father, the man who led his comrades through an armed struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe’s black majority from Rhodesian white-minority rule. His achievements in those early, heady years of independence were exemplary, with emphasis on health, education and women’s empowerment, thus opening up possibilities to many Zimbabweans, particularly the rural poor, who were shut out from Rhodesia’s opportunities.
From another viewpoint, he is the hero who became a villain, his 37-year rule characterised by massive human rights abuses, from the Gukurahundi massacres and persecution of supporters of the rival Zapu party of Joshua Nkomo just after independence, to the persecution of perceived enemies, both in the opposition and within his own party, whom he considered threats to his power. Even the land reform programme, much admired across Africa for restoring land to its rightful owners, was implemented amid chaos and violence.”
But in their latest statement, Civic Society and Churches Joint Forum (CSCJF) lamentably argued that the nonagenarian’s legacy can not be denied and that he will stand as a beacon of strength against global white supremacy.
Here is the full statement;
On the 6th of September, we woke up to news that the political freedom veteran, the founding father of our nation and former president, RG Mugabe had passed on in Singapore. A cold breeze covered the nation a signal of the departure of the soul of a legend at 95. May His dear soul rest in eternal peace.
The late former president Mugabe was a man who contributed so much to humanity that if we are to talk about his achievements we will need volumes of books to be written. The icon of Africa has departed. Like David having served his own generation, he has gone to be with his ancestors and is rested.
He was the franchise, the most vigilant president in Africa. He created a legacy of self-respect and confidence that has influenced and inspired many black people. He promoted, advanced and defended the fundamental rights of the African people. He was a champion of black pride and dignity.
Cde RG Mugabe resisted a slow genocide exterminating black people. He hated white-sex (pederasty and homophilia). For that, we salute him. He gave black people land, and the west declared illegal economic sanctions of mass destruction to our country but he did not change. Our second salute.
He was not perfect. He was weak in dealing with corruption and was brutal to puppets. But the imperfections did not exceed his goodness. It is for this reason that in the last year of his reign criminals around him were targeted and he resigned from office giving the new dispensation an opportunity to restore his legacy that was now being fast eroded by these criminals.
The dispensation that took over from him has been left with an outstanding debt, that of ensuring that the sad episode at the beginning of his 37 years reign, which saw thousands of people in Matebeleland and the Midlands provinces killed in the Gukurahundi atrocities, finds closure. It is a dark chapter in his book of life that is sad to read. Though there was a unity accord in 1987 between the two leaders of the fighting sides, we feel there has to be national healing and making of reparations to the victims of Cde Mugabe’s atrocities. Vana vanoripa mhosva dzemadzibaba avo.
Nevertheless, because of his legendary contributions, His Excellency President Mnangagwa promised to continue respecting him, keeping him safe, providing for all his needs, best medical care and to have him happy all the time until the unknown day that has taken him home in a very good Singapore hospital. All that was done in appreciation of his sterling contributions to our nation.
There are those who will accuse us of worshipping a man, or of covering the wrongs he did. We saw in President Mugabe the hand of God delivering black people from bondage. When [a] man do phenomenal things who cannot be tempted to do as the Apostle John,
“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.”
Many people were tempted to immortalise him. He was regarded as an angel, a messenger of political and educational freedom. We see it as a divine favour that our nation was founded by such a great man. Though kings kill to rule in war times, we saw a unity accord on 22 December where the less was blessed by the greater and from that day our two revolutionary political parties became one and there was a decade of prosperity up to 1997. It is in that year of 1997 when RG Mugabe resisted homosexuals and denied them to exhibit their LGBT literature. It is again that year when our dollar fell for the first time.
Then comes year of 2000 when RG Mugabe having spent 20 years wise as a serpent but innocent as a dove decided to sting on white supremacy. A fast track land reform happened. Land was taken from white brethren who had dispossessed our ancestors of their natural birthrights. Over 300 000 families were resettled. This act completed the political freedom dispensation and ushered in a democratic dispensation where the next 17 years president Mugabe held 2002, 2008 and 2013 presidential elections.
It is this era where we will find many criticism of his leadership style as there was now political contestations with the opposition and external influence. It also was an era of economic warfare to him. The West ganged up against him and made our economy to scream all in an attempt to make Cde Mugabe’s people to rebel against him.
And such protests did happen. Civic Society organisations felt the economic decline and the worker’s incomes eroded. But it also became the birth of opportunistic civil society organisations that began to work with external forces to demonize Zimbabwe in order to effect regime change. It is here where Cde Mugabe with his wisdom understood the peak of mentacide and to chastise the activists was somewhat disproportionate in the minds of some, yet a father was correcting his eurocentric children of whom some had gone to the extent of asking for sanctions.
CSCJF notes that sanctions have been the main cause of the suffering of the people because of the political ideologies of RG Mugabe despite the attempts by other people to describe them as targeted and to blame other factors which also contributed to the declining of our economy.
Amazingly, we had planned to do a nationwide sanctions discussions programs on the 6th of September, the day our icon passed on. God planned it that way. We do hope that ends the era of sanctions and that there will be unity of purpose and we will enjoy the positives from the legacy he created as we are mourning him today.
But if we shall continue to be divided and conquered, to behave as half men and half women trapped in inferiority complex, failing to use our brains so that we deliver also on the specific necessities of our dispensation to which we are called and ordained, if we deny the reality and choose to remain under sanctions and corruption, then our legend and national hero will have died in vain.
Socio-politically Mugabe’s legacy to us Zimbabweans and Afrikans at home and abroad can never be denied. In this millennium, no Afrikan leader, as yet, has ever made an impact on the Pan Afrikan ideal as Mugabe. History shall recall that his good deeds far outweighed his ‘evil’. Future generations to come will elevate him to the pantheon of the Greats. Self-reliance, self-preservation, self-autonomy, self-pride and empowerment. Undeniable legacies and building blocks for us to build upon.
Mugabe will stand as a beacon of strength against global white supremacy to all those that know the pains one must endure to attempt to break their rule. He broke their rule in Zimbabwe and showed us what it means to go against all odds. Yes, the Zimbabwean people were collateral damage and the supremacist structure will not praise him because they cannot lift up his success against them. It’s our job to give the glory to one of [the] strongmen of our history.
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