President Robert Mugabe is passionate about Zimbabwe, but should rest and protect his legacy, analysts said Wednesday.
Political analysts said for all the mistakes the President may have made as it is human to err, there was no question about his dedication to the country, his devotion to the emancipation of African people and his genuine belief in empowering the poor and marginalised.
The analysts said the role he played during the liberation struggle, his commitment to expanding social services and the education system — especially in the first decade after Independence — formed a strong legacy.
But the general sentiment was that age has caught up with him and he should now take a back seat and enjoy the “Godfather” status.
The analysts said although President Mugabe made grave mistakes — chief among them the Gukurahundi massacres as well as his failure to come up with a practical leadership renewal plan for Zanu PF — he needs a respectable exit plan.
Harare-based political analyst Charles Mangongera said: “His legacy as a leader goes back to the role he played as a liberation fighter. He was one of the key leaders who led the liberation struggle, not only in Zimbabwe, but the region as a whole, considering his role in apartheid South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia.
“I believe he has played his role. I don’t think he has much to offer in terms of crafting new ideas to pull the country forward. Age has caught up with him, and his relationship with the world is now characterised by confrontation and tension, not only with the West, but gradually even with his African brothers, like we saw with Sadc leaders recently,” he said.
Joseph Kurebwa, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said President Mugabe has been one of the main actors in shaping Zimbabwe’s history in the last 50 years, but should leave office in the next one or two years after completing his fight against sanctions.
“He has consistently fought against repression and has been on the side of the African cause. He fought for black liberation both in Zimbabwe and the developing world dating back as far back as the 1960s,” Kurebwa said.
“The president should leave and rest within the next 12 to 24 months after winding up his ant-sanctions campaign. After independence he promoted integration, peace and security even in places like Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. Among his notable achievements are national reconciliation, the promotion of unity at home especially in collaboration with Dr Joshua Nkomo and promoting national security. He has also championed black economic empowerment through the land reform programme, so he has a very strong legacy.”
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Eldred Masunungure said while President Mugabe would know best when he should retire, his continued hold on power was eroding his legacy.
Said Masunungure: “There is no incident in his rule that indicates that he is not a patriot. He erred on many occasions, but he can’t be faulted on patriotism. There is little doubt that he is passionate about the country and the nation.”
“But even the greatest patriot must be contained through institutional measures, but that did not happen in his case. He was given too much unrestricted space after demonstrating expertise and competence resulting in him becoming too powerful.
“His legacy will be mixed in that he performed well in some respects especially in the early phases of his rule. He showed that he was capable, very eloquent, disciplined and was generally a performer. He faltered in the later part of his rule.”