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Remembering Mugabe

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By Paidamoyo Muzulu

HISTORY has many lessons. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, many a time people regret decisions they would have made. People sometimes fall into nostalgia.

Zimbabweans are no different to any other nationalities. The sense of accomplishments by heroes can only be better understood when looking back. Many a time, the history of the moment is misunderstood or taken for granted.

Many people now look at the Magna Carta as a great document. Many too a look at the 1776 American Declaration of Independence statement as indispensable. Many consider the US constitution of 1789 as a great document.

These are significant documents, so is Jean Jacques Rousseau’s seminal text on Social Contract.

Zimbabwe has its own milestone dates and events that changed the course of history. One can speak of the Rudd Concession that led to the occupation of Zimbabwe by the Pioneer Column in 1890. Or one can also choose the 1923 referendum where Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) rejected to be part of the Union of South Africa which then was only 13 years old.

One can also look at the 1963 formation of Zanu as the starting point of the Second Chimurenga. In the same vein, one cannot avoid looking at Ian Douglas Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence on November 11, 1965. These events shaped what Zimbabwe is today.

The 1979 Lancaster House Conference also has a special place in our history.

It is the conference that led to our independence (however, imperfect it was) 90 years after settler occupation.

History has larger than life personalities. The British have Winston Churchill, the US have Thomas Jefferson and Zimbabwe has the late former President Robert Mugabe. Germany has Otto von Bismarck and France has its own Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles De Gaulle.

Mugabe straddled Zimbabwe’s politics for an incredible 56 years since his return from Ghana to join nationalist politics.

He had many triumphant entries during the over half a century at the front of our politics till his inglorious fall in November 2017.

During that time, Mugabe left an indelible footprint in our politics, economics and governance. He was a man of many faces and at best decisive in decision making. There is Mugabe the nationalist, Mugabe the Marxist-Leninist, Mugabe the orator and Mugabe the dictator.

Mugabe the Marxist believed and implemented policies such as minimum wage, free universal primary education, free primary healthcare, home-ownership schemes in urban areas and in his twilight, land redistribution programme.

Extolling these should not blind us to Mugabe who instigated Gukurahundi or Mugabe who bludgeoned political opponents or the man who ordered the razing down of people’s properties during Operation Murambatsvina of 2005.

However, after his demise lonely in far away Singapore, his great deeds are still showing like beacons. This is despite the euphoria that followed his dramatic ouster.

The beacons of Mugabe’s achievements are shining brighter because of the darkness enveloping us in the so-called Second Republic. Mugabe’s shadow looms large over our lies.

Mugabe’s political and economic boots are each passing day proving to be too big for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa has the misfortune of Blaise Compaore who succeeded iconic Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso. It is like coming to the stage after the main act.

It is two years since Mugabe joined his ancestors and it has been two years of the Second Republic trying to erase Mugabe’s political footprints.

Mugabe is rarely mentioned in the public media and neither is his passing away nationally remembered. No university has organised an annual public lecture on Mugabe. No statue has been erected in his honour.

Despite all this, the pain of economic suffering and political persecution is bringing a collective nostalgia about Mugabe the man.

A thing that many could not countenance during the mad week of his ouster. Each day Mugabe is emerging the hero he was, warts and all.

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