Mugabe’s Legacy

Although the political demise of Robert Mugabe is decades overdue, his legacy in Zimbabwe will endure indefinitely. From the outset in 1980 he was the beneficiary of British indifference. Despite thousands of reports of intimidation, torture and beatings meted out against opposition parties by Mugabe’s Zanu cadres in the lead up to the 1980 election, Lord Soames turned a blind eye and declared Mugabe the winner.

Twice, in 1983 and 1985, Mugabe conducted a form of ethnic cleansing against the minority Ndebele tribe. His hired North Korean Fifth Brigade massacred between 20,000 and 40,000 Ndebele. For that alone Mugabe should have been prosecuted by the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity. But nothing happened.

By 1987 Mugabe had colonised his rival Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu party and Zimbabwe had effectively become a one-party state. Although the 1979 Lancaster House agreement guaranteed white citizens twenty seats in the Zim parliament, Mugabe scrapped that as well.

Despite the legal registration of white-owned farms with the Zimbabwe government, Mugabe declared war on white farmers who accounted for 40% of Zimbabwe’s economy. Hordes of so-called green bombers were instructed to seize farms and drive out their legal owners.

In a reign of terror, in which several farmers were killed or badly beaten,3,500 white farmers, their families, their pets and possessions were brutally evicted from their legally-owned properties, in most cases at short notice. As a result, 350,000 African farm labourers found themselves homeless and unemployed.

Mugabe’s politically inspired, racist seizure of white farmland destroyed Zimbabwe’s economy. Within a short time, previously productive farms were stripped of all their assets by the new owners and left to revert to bush and weeds. Basic foodstuffs became unobtainable and by 2003, some eight million Zimbabweans were starving. Unemployment reached 90%. Desperate to survive, over two million Zimbabweans sought refuge in South Africa.

Every aspect of Zimbabwe’s infrastructure and governance became the subject of neglect and impoverishment. Despite that, Mugabe and his Zanu-PF henchmen continued to enjoy lives of luxury and privilege while the most extreme hyperinflation in history totally impoverished the country. Shamelessly Mugabe used the Zimbabwean army to ring-fence a diamond-rich area in the Congo during the civil war there and looted a personal fortune of $3 billion(See: Mercury, March 6, 2003).

Despite losing a referendum on constitutional change, Mugabe remained in power by rigging and stealing every election since 2000. Despite that, the ANC routinely accepted Mugabe as the legitimate ruler of Zimbabwe. Despite the Freedom Charter’s promise of liberty to “all the people of Africa,” the ANC governments of Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma ignored Mugabe’s brutal violation of human rights in Zimbabwe and his mockery of democracy.

Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF cohorts destroyed a once-thriving, promising country. They also destroyed the lives and prospects of millions of its citizens. They achieved this whilst enriching themselves to an obscene extent. When communism collapsed in Eastern Europe, the brutal billionaire dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceaucescu and his wife, Elena, were captured and shot by firing squad. Mugabe and his ilk deserve no less.

Sent into The Daily News and published, 18 November 2017.

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