Today must become a public holiday in Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe, the country’s ancient dictator, has finally died. The freedom fighter turned autocratic-oppressor-of-his-own-people was 95-years-old when he breathed his last breath.
“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe,” current President Emmerson Mnangagwa tweeted today. “Cde Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
Cde Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace (2/2)
— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) September 6, 2019
That’s a very kind tweet, but it’s also extremely hypocritical. Mnangagwa is only in power because the military staged a coup two years ago in order to oust Mugabe and his wife, who had been destroying Zimbabwe for decades. Yes, Robert started his political career as a freedom fighter, but once in power, he became worse than the Brits who ruled Zimbabwe before him ever were.
Or as The Daily Telegraph puts it:
Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe who has died aged 95, began his 37 years in power as a Nobel Peace Prize nominee credited with creating Africa’s most successful multiracial state.
By the time he was ousted in November 2017 his repressive determination to remain in charge had driven the country into ruin and ensured his place as an international pariah, while the determination of his widely despised second wife, Grace, to succeed him had threatened to plunge the country into civil war and led to a military intervention.
A man’s character doesn’t reveal itself when he’s oppressed, but when he’s the most powerful person in his country. When he can do whatever he wants without fearing he’ll be punished for potential evil deeds, that’s when a man shows his real colors. Robert Mugabe has failed that test. Once he became Zimbabwe’s president, Mugabe immediately set to despoil the country to his own benefit. He became filthy rich, while normal Zimbabweans suffered.
Zimbabwe was once considered “the jewel of Africa.” Once Mugabe was ruling it, however, Zimbabwe became the second-poorest country in the world, “with unemployment and poverty rates of around 80 percent and one of the lowest life expectancies on Earth.” That is his real legacy. Not the wonderful speeches he gave when he was powerless, but what he did once he was in power. This guy was truly a curse on his own people. Thank God he and his wife were not only removed from power two years ago, but that he’s finally dead.
The only downside of his death? Many Zimbabweans wanted him to pay for his many crimes. President Mnangagwa already granted him immunity from prosecution, but some Zimbabweans undoubtedly had some hope that he would eventually be held to account. That hope has been thrown out of the window now. He got away with all his many crimes.