A LIFE that loomed large over Zimbabwe for three decades, and one that stirred contrasting reactions came to an end Friday morning.
Both Robert Mugabe’s admirers and critics agree, until the very end, Mugabe stuck to his principles, no matter how controversial or detrimental they were.
On the eve of the 2018 elections he was the star attraction at his plush residence. He vented his anger at President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF.
Defiant as ever, Mugabe vowed never to vote for the people who mistreated him.
Not once did he seize the occasion to apologies for past atrocities, electoral fraud, human rights violations and policies that created room for plunder and unmitigated poverty.
If at all, he remained defiant till the end.
A former minister who declined to be named told Zim Morning Post many people believe Mugabe started off as a democrat and then later became a tyrant but their assertions could not be further from the truth.
“In the politburo – Zanu PF’s highest decision making body – we would quarrel for hours only for Mugabe to stand up in the end and pronounce his position, one which he would have had even before the debate,” the ex top official said.
In his autobiography — A Lifetime of Struggle — veteran nationalist Edgar Tekere described Mugabe as a reluctant leader who rose to power through political coups and detention camp plots.
Typically, when Tekere died in 2011, Mugabe did not attend his burial at Heroes Acre even though they escaped together to join the liberation struggle in Mozambique in 1975.
In 2008 when international pressure mounted for Mugabe to stand down he told delegates at an international trade fair in Bulawayo “Zimbabwe is not for sale and Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.”
Earlier in 2002 defending the land reform program and the way it was implemented, Mugabe told the World Summit in Johannesburg: “We don’t mind having and bearing sanctions banning us from Europe. We are not Europeans. We have not asked for an inch of Europe or any square inch of that territory.
He continued “so, Blair, keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe.”
He was unflinching in his ideals, right or wrong. He was forced out of power clinging onto to his indegenisation mantra even as it was abused by those close to him.
He would be on the next offensive whenever he was faced with the option to take the knee.
At the closure of countless elections he was unapologetic as he took oath of office despite widespread claims of rigging.