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#MugabeResigns: Why I Never 'Celebrated Mugabe’s Downfall’

Harare – I was born two years before Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.  Since birth, I had only identified Robert Mugabe as the only leader o...

Harare – I was born two years before Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. 

Since birth, I had only identified Robert Mugabe as the only leader of my country. Back then, nobody could oppose his reign, until his sudden fall from grace on 21 November 2017.

In summary, Mugabe was a national demi-god. He was a symbolism of the dearth of imperialism – a bygone hope for Africa, especially southern Africa, and most of all, an emblem of unity.

In primary school, my books carried Mugabe’s face. It was a heroic gesture, associated with undying patriotism. On Independence Day, 18 April, diverse guests dined with the first family.

Every February, children gathered to interact during the 21st February Movement – a day reserved for his Excellency’s birthday – but all will be history now, after his sudden retreat from the echelons of power.

Supreme leader

As we grew, the school was affordable – almost free for all. Houses were allocated to those willing and qualifying – as long as one produced the requirements: marriage certificate plus a Zanu-PF card – even opposition leader – Morgan Tsvangirai carried one. Many became proprietors via this offer.

Opposing the supreme leader was taboo. Our parents were marshaled to regular political meetings, while we invaded the community. Any indented resistance could result in reprimand for the whole clan.

I recall the Mamvemve family – humiliated at one of the gatherings for their alleged association with Zapu – a formation led by the late Joshua Nkomo.

The Mamvemves subsequently vanished from the community. At the same time, Matabeleland was engulfed with Gukurahundi (eliminate the chaff) – a process to eliminate proposed opponents of the ruling party.

Mugabe Died A Lonely, Bitter Man 
Conservative estimates say at least 20 000 people perished in the war.

Nkomo and his party were later absorbed by Zanu-PF on 22 December 1988. This resulted in Unity Day – and allowing a second Vice President to originate from Matabeleland. After that, Zimbabwe enjoyed relative peace.

Fading party

The introduction of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) in the 90s further exposed the ruling party. Signs of economic decline were too glaring to ignore – but at least they were trying to salvage the country from the murky waters.

1997 posed the greatest threat to Mugabe’s uninterrupted tenure. Veterans of the liberation war were demanding their dues – but the government was reluctant to pay out compensation. War hero, the late Chenjerai Hunzvi led the onslaught on Mugabe’s administration, promising to bring down his grip on power.

Sensing pressure, the state yielded to the unrealistic demands from the war liberators. In total, the state churned out an unbudgeted $3 billion – leading to the downfall of the once flourishing economy. Again, many of the veterans were facing pauper lifestyles – and the payouts uplifted some.

Events of a 1999 riot looting by citizens, mainly in the high density, signified the spiraling downfall of Mugabe’s power. Though the army was summoned to quell rebellious intentions, the writing was on the wall for Mugabe.

Later on, Mugabe hung on to power – mainly by stifling divergent voices, his foothold on power was waning by the day, though he still had some semblance of relevance.

Looming change

And many, including myself, still hoped that Mugabe would revive Zimbabwe’s fortunes to its glory days. We were all wrong, as the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) proffered more resistance to the aging leader’s governance. Its leader – Morgan Tsvangirai was battled hardened as the leader of the labour movement.

At the turn of the millennium in 2000, land reform became the new mantra. Hordes of landless citizens invaded mainly white-owned farms. Seventeen years later after the parceling of tracks of land, a portion of new farmers are turning around the fortunes of the land – and after all, this was the gist of the liberation struggle.

In 2008, I left Harare for Johannesburg. My bag contained my frayed clothes and professional qualifications. I never knew what to expect. But without Mugabe’s misrule, I could not have gained what I now possess. It was knowledge well earned, though the hard way.

Many more immigrants have followed this route in search of greener pastures and will bring more exposure in a new Zimbabwe. On my return, I witnessed my mother die in her bed during a 2008 cholera outbreak.

Later on, I shepherded her immobile body to an overcrowded mortuary. By then, Mugabe had assumed power in an election race aided by the security forces, particularly the army.

No bitterness

Another colleague – a scribe endured a similar calamity. “I lost my mother in 2009 and was unable to go back home to bury her. But today as #Mugabe fell, I felt no anger or bitterness towards him. 

I actually felt sorry for him. Even with many political landmines and differences 2 navigate in #Zimbabwe lets remain tolerant and respectful,” mourned Lance Guma.

As you read this, every service delivery has collapsed – but it is unAfrican to kick a man who is down, like in Mugabe’s case. And when news of Mugabe’s resignation filtered, I recall my mother’s death, Gukurahundi victims and what was in store for my country.

My conscience articulates to me there is hope for Zimbabwe, so there is no need for vengeance. Mugabe will be 94 next year. As Africans, we are cultured not to mock our elders’ nakedness – and Mugabe currently resembles such.

Unethical party

Ethics is one virtue of anyone called a leader, sadly many in the ruling party is crowded with such. A few years back, they were lampooning Mnangagwa and drove him out of the party for various misdeeds, yet they called for Mugabe’s ouster.

Until the ruling party shows true change, only then will I launch my celebratory party. Publisher Trevor Ncube shared my beliefs.

“I have no anger, ill will, or hate towards Robert Mugabe. The greatest punishment for Mugabe is to have him watch as Zimbabweans celebrate his departure. We won’t waste our lives hating on a 93-year-old. But never again must we allow anybody to do another Mugabe on us.”

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