Mugabe: A peerless, malevolent fearmonger

Candour: Nqaba Matshazi

AS a young lad, my late grandmother would occasionally ship me to her rural home in Nkayi, where, for the first time, I came face to face with the late former President Robert Mugabe’s handiwork.

My grandmother’s neighbour was the late Welshman Mabhena, a senior figure in Zapu in the 1980s.

His house had been razed to the ground and his family was forced to flee, with the ruins of that homestead serving as a warning to anyone in that area of what would happen to them if they dabbled in opposition politics.

My grandmother and her neighbours hardly ever spoke about what happened to the Mabhena homestead, and when they did, it was in hushed tones and not before throwing furtive glances to see if there were any unwanted eavesdroppers.

That is the first thing that I knew about Mugabe; he was feared and this fear of him would stalk me throughout my life.

You are probably thinking this is another Gukurahundi rant, the whip that has often been used to lash Mugabe with. Rather this is a collection of my memories of the man rather than anything else.

When I started primary school in rural Esigodini, we would regularly spot soldiers and occasionally we would bump into their vehicles when we went for walks.

The nuns at the school never told us what was happening, but you could see the fear etched on their faces.

Around 1990, I was quite young, but I remember being told not to leave our yard, no matter what.

I was in Gweru then, where my father lives to this day, and the late Patrick Kombayi had just been shot.

Again nobody spoke up, but the concern on the adults’ faces was quite evident. As I was preparing for secondary school, news broke that Zapu legislator, Sydney Malunga had died in a car accident.

The hushed tones returned; nobody said it or at least while I was within earshot, but the consensus was that he had been killed and the accident scene had been staged.

Again the overarching theme of Mugabe’s presidency was fear. The following year, I was placed in the same hostel with Malunga’s son at high school.

A relative lost both his parents when he was still a boy, they were involved in an accident with a Puma truck, an unsightly military or police vehicle.

Being involved in an accident with a Puma truck soon became a euphemism for being killed, probably by State agents.

I remember one day sitting with the late Johanna Nkomo, the wife of the late former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo in 2000 when the MDC was still a nascent movement.

Without saying much, she stood up and muttered something along the lines that then MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai did not know Mugabe, because if he did, he would not dare challenge the Zanu PF leader, as by doing so, he risked being heavily assaulted.

Then there was the period between 2002 and 2008, which was characterised by deaths of MDC supporters, culminating in the “stolen” election of 2008.

Mugabe’s biggest supporters claim he was ready to throw in the towel, but top soldiers refused and ordered him to stay on.

Obviously, I may not know the intricacies of statecraft and what happens behind closed doors, but on July 29, 2018 at his house, I asked Mugabe if he was not hypocritical in accusing soldiers of staging a coup, yet he himself had benefited from a similar action a decade earlier.

He had a chance to come clean, maybe to apologise or at least open up about what happened.

Instead he rambled on about Tsvangirai not having more than 50% and there being no outright winner necessitating a run off.

Even at probably one of his nadirs, he remained defiant and unrepentant.

Recently, a friend Buhlebenkosi Tshabangu-Moyo tweeted that to this day, she is afraid of military helicopters because she associates them with death, fear and insecurity that visited her area once upon a time.

That is the Mugabe I remember, a fearmonger, who dealt in insecurity.

A hallmark of his presidency was a timid and demobilised citizenry, some of whom are still afraid to speak ill of him because they fear his goons are listening, even as his lifeless body lies prostrate.

There are some who never witnessed this side of Mugabe, who remember him as a benevolent man, who made sure they had a good education and good healthcare, I cannot begrudge them that.

But I remember him as a malevolent fiend, who instead of building schools and hospitals in Matabeleland North, where I was born, and in Matabeleland South, where I spent my childhood, he brought death and destruction.

In the 1980s, when there was a drought in Matabeleland South, he continued with a colonial era state of emergency that saw thousands of people being denied access to food and leading to their starvation.

He hardly built schools in Matabeleland South and accused the young men of that region of being dissidents, leading to their deaths.

Those that managed to escape his death squads were forced to flee into neighbouring Botswana and South Africa.

Mugabe did build schools across the country, but a state of emergency in Matabeleland South in the 1980s meant that fewer schools were built in the province than anywhere else in the country.

When the state of emergency was finally lifted around 1990, World Bank loans for building schools and hospitals had dried out and Zimbabwe introduced an economic structural adjustment programme and could barely afford to build any infrastructure.

This means most of the country had a 10-year headstart on Matabeleland South in terms of infrastructure development and the province has never caught up.

Because of the lack of schools in the province, and lack of educated role models, many of the young boys born in Matabeleland South, disillusioned and disenfranchised, then only see South Africa as their saving grace.

You do not believe me? Check the latest figures from the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Survey, they will show you that someone born in Matabeleland South is less likely to go to primary school or proceed to secondary school than their counterpart from the Mashonaland provinces.

This is not because they are averse to education, as those that peddle tribal stereotypes often allege, but schools are far and few in between.

Where there are schools, these are poorly-resourced and not fit for purpose.

Instead of coming up with solutions by building more schools in the province, Mugabe chose to mock the men of Matabeleland South, accusing the Kalanga of being uneducated and running away from Zimbabwe to be petty thieves and crooks in South Africa.

He also accused the men of leaving their wives only to return twice a year with bicycles and blankets.

He seemed to take pleasure at this without even considering what his role was in causing this imbalance in the Matabeleland provinces.

I could go on and on, but what I know is that his malevolence was unmatched.

Nqaba Matshazi is AMH head of digital. He writes in his personal capacity. Feedback: nmatshazi@alphamedia.co.zw. Twitter: @nqabamatshazi

Do you have a coronavirus story? You can email us on: news@alphamedia.co.zw


46 Comments

  1. What a horrible legacy for people in Matabeleland!

  2. i am not going to miss him.

  3. Sorry brother….I am Shona and was raised to be nothing like him.

  4. Ndezvenyu mandevere, lo taurai kuti gayigasu aipa masweets here kana kuti aiparaidza shok ramwari , saka akazouraisa vanhu namugabe, thats tribal nonsense which we have heard enough of. Your descendats are killing pepol in joza there.

  5. I just want to mention I am just all new to blogs and truly liked you’re blog. Very likely I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You definitely have awesome well written articles. Many thanks for sharing your webpage.

  6. I will invite all my friends to your blog, you really got a great blog.`*’;:

  7. i would love to get some free calendars on the internet, are there are sites or company that gives one?’

  8. You ought to take part in a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the net. I’m going to highly recommend this web site!

  9. When I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks a lot.

  10. Everything is very open with a precise description of the issues. It was truly informative. Your website is very useful. Many thanks for sharing.

  11. I used to be able to find good advice from your blog posts.

  12. I was able to find good info from your blog articles.

  13. Do you believe past life regression? Do you think is reincarnation real?

  14. Good blog you have here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  15. Can I simply say what a comfort to discover an individual who really understands what they are discussing on the internet. You actually understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people have to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you are not more popular since you surely have the gift.

  16. Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It’s the little changes that will make the most significant changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  17. I want to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I’ve got you book-marked to check out new stuff you post…

  18. Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your website is extremely helpful. Many thanks for sharing!

  19. Good post. I absolutely appreciate this website. Thanks!

  20. I blog frequently and I really thank you for your information. This article has really peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.

  21. Everyone loves it when folks come together and share views. Great site, continue the good work.

  22. Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the advice!

  23. Thanks for expressing your ideas. I’d personally also like to say that video games have been at any time evolving. Today’s technology and innovative developments have aided create realistic and fun games. These kinds of entertainment video games were not really sensible when the actual concept was being experimented with. Just like other forms of technological innovation, video games too have had to progress by many years. This itself is testimony to the fast growth of video games.

  24. You should take part in a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the web. I’m going to highly recommend this website!

  25. I love looking through an article that will make men and women think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment.

  26. Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m going to come back once again since i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

  27. I quite like looking through a post that can make men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment.

  28. Your style is so unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.

  29. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be useful to read through content from other writers and use a little something from their sites.

  30. Aw, this was a really nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

  31. Cant wait to read more of your blog, it really helps expand my knowledge

  32. Wonderful post! We are linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the good writing.

  33. It’s difficult to find well-informed people in this particular topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  34. I’m very pleased to find this website. I need to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely liked every bit of it and I have you saved to fav to look at new stuff on your web site.

  35. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always useful to read content from other writers and use something from their sites.

  36. Very nice article. I definitely love this website. Keep it up!

  37. Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe that this website needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the info.

  38. An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I do think that you need to publish more about this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t speak about such subjects. To the next! All the best.

  39. Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this blog.

  40. A motivating discussion is worth comment. I do think that you need to publish more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do not talk about these subjects. To the next! Many thanks!

  41. I needed to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I’ve got you book-marked to check out new stuff you post…

  42. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always interesting to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their websites.

  43. There’s definately a great deal to learn about this subject. I really like all of the points you made.

  44. Very good blog post. I certainly love this site. Continue the good work!

  45. I want to to thank you for this good read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you book marked to check out new things you post…

  46. Having read this I believed it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this information together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

Comments are closed.