Sunday Read: Mugabe leaves behind a loathsome legacy

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FORMER President Robert Mugabe was finally “sunk” Saturday in his rural Zvimba home, Mashonaland West.

Mugabe passed away in Singapore after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 95.

Besides wasting an “African jewel” he inherited at independence in 1980, the former President leaves behind a mostly sickening legacy.

The former liberation war stalwart was averse to criticism, a trait that later became his biggest undoing.

In the early 80s, Mugabe blew out of proportion a petty quarrel with his political rival, the late Joshua Nkomo of PF Zapu, later unleashing the Fifth Brigade, a North-Korean trained militia in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions.

Mugabe’s North Korean- trained brigade project, the Gukurahundi, was catastrophic, accounting for the slaughter of about 20 000 civilians in the two provinces, according to the Catholic Commission on Peace and Justice.

Mugabe never apologised for the atrocities, only referring to them as “a moment of madness”. Period.

In the early 1990s, Mugabe was humiliated at the National Heroes’ Acre by the Chenjerai Hunzvi-led Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association who wanted government to pay them a lamp sum as compensation for their contribution in the 1970s war of liberation.

Rather than allow his argument with the former fighters to potentially see him lose power, Mugabe relented to their demands, immediately instructing Treasury to release $50 000 each to the more than 50 000 war veterans, triggering chaos in the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange from which the country has never recovered to date.

The prospect of losing power had a disorienting and frightening effect on Mugabe.

In 2000, Mugabe tacitly allowed the violent takeover of white-owned commercial farms whose only sin was to financially support the MDC, a newly created labour-based opposition political party.

To sanitise what had become his hatred for white commercial farmers, the now late former President lied to the world that farm invasions by some organised “hoodlums” were spontaneous, therefore speaking to the need for land reform in Zimbabwe.

In the ensuing land reform programme that made wastelands of most arable land, turning Zimbabwe from its regional breadbasket status to a basket case, Mugabe rewarded his faithfuls with huge tracts of land previously owned by former white commercial farmers, which land mainly remains derelict to date.

But the consequences of such a move were devastating, with the West imposing crippling sanctions on the country, also immediately killing a once robust agro-based economy; and all this to preserve one man and his cronies’ unbridled self-interests!

But still, the inclination to eulogise Mugabe at death is hugely tempting but simultaneously dangerous, considering that his surviving colleagues cash in on that, mistaking that as condonation for repressive regimes by Zimbabweans.

To anyone who would dare stand in his way of power, Mugabe was like a typhoon, ferociously sweeping them all aside; Josiah Magama Tongogara, Maurice Nyagumbo, Movern Mahachi, Eliot Manyika, Solomon Mujuru and many others.

In all fairness, therefore, Mugabe was a shameless and authoritarian figure, a self-confessed Adolf Hitler. Period.

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