By Andrew M Manyevere
Comparing people’s perceptions on Robert Mugabe in 1980 and in 2013 is unfair. These are two different time periods with different outlook altogether. Who ever made an introduction to Tanzania Foreign Minister Hon Mr. Abdulrahman Mohamed Babu needed not to have discredited his otherwise well-meaning letter then? Babu is a respected Scholar and had commented openly to Mugabe in the hope he was professional to listen to colleagues views. In fact the letter reveals that many people assumed Mugabe was a revolutionary which is not by definition, correct. Robert Mugabe had neither espoused a theory on revolutionary concepts nor taken active part in being a part to the process.
It is, in my opinion, these distortions that had grown extreme and misplaced esteem for President Robert Mugabe who had initially appeared gentle to distant observers. The fact that many of us do not take time to understand ourselves let alone the self-imposing leadership under any guise, leads to cult veneration that has left many leaders on the African continent looked at as small ‘gods’. Somehow this poverty in cultural awareness has played a negative role regarding the way we view leaders on the continent.
By far President Nelson Mandela of South Africa is a revolutionary who stood by certain humanistic philosophies from his early days in politics to mature political statesman that he has come to be and world revered leaders.
Babu assumed Mugabe was going to acknowledge pitfalls in the need for national reconstruction. The need to polish people towards mastering change and transition from colonial dictatorship to choice of who people want were all disregarded by Mugabe and instead he replaced dictatorship with another dictatorship so long as there were different people and of different colors. Mugabe is under developed and monarchical in outlook even though he professes being a ‘revolutionary’ who supports democracy.
If Mugabe believed in one party democracy then he would have long left presidential seat for someone else from within the party on the basis he respected there were others better than him to carry the legacy of good leadership on. If he was a multi-party democrat we would not be where we are now: In deep political, economic and cultural stress, because Mugabe did not take advice of political admirers to heart in view of his natural dictatorial life style that was just beginning to take sharpe.
Honourable Babu had gone to trouble to give statistics to then Prime Minster Robert Mugabe and give indication of how well placed we were from both a GDP and per capita comparing Kenya then and Zimbabwe who had populations of 14 and 7 million respectively. While in 1980 our per capita was 550 today it is far much lower, a true indicator of mismanagement and incompetency on the party of Robert Mugabe. If we as Zimbabweans agreed on these simple facts then perhaps even he Mugabe would be seeing sense in his failure. But when men professed educated close their eyes to realities and chose instead to stay in denial, and praise mischief and mismanagement as the way, how can Zimbabwe move away from poverty which she never was in before?
The Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs had also observed that Zimbabwe was an agro based industrial country with a good infrastructure and could grow stronger given careful management. He warned though that too much aid would give agriculture the kiss of death. Yet Mugabe went, in his hey days, for a ZIMCORD conference which was to put in debt Zimbabwe from finances that were borrowed and misallocated and mismanaged.
Zimbabwe was free of debt when we took over in 1980. Even though I do not agree with the Hon Minister then who commented cooperatives as a means to develop responsible agriculture among upcoming Zimbabwe agronomists, I believe he meant well given the level of Tanzania’s economic development when colonial legacy ended.
The point is Robert Mugabe did nothing on the lines of what he was given by an admirers who had been in government long before him. President Nyerere had warned Mugabe with same caution: Zimbabwe is developed in contrast to many African countries at independent. Therefore do not be insensitive to other people handle your country smartly so you keep it a jewel. The country then with potential has turned into a desert without its own foreign currency but completely poor. The country whose currency was at par with the American dollar today has adopted the dollar to try and rescue bankruptcy.
There is a big difference between 1980 and 2013 in that in 1980 people well come Robert Mugabe just as he was well come by other progressive people as progressive. Today Mugabe is not well come at all despite that he keeps imposing himself on people through fraud and rigging.
Mugabe failed to create internal investments in the country instead he destroyed chances and opportunities except for favouring his cohorts with farms, tractors, and funds from the fiscus. A health economy begun bleeding but Mugabe would not see it. In his honey moon as in his dark days he blamed everything on western powers. He progressed to blame sanctions too.
In 1980 he received some victory to test his loyalty to the people’s worn freedom and independence. In 2013 he is consolidating his fraudulent styles in election manipulation and rigging compounded with unsupervised poor governance. The open letter has helped us to see the treacherous way with which we have been navigated away from days of better management to days of poverty, insecurity and abuse by Mugabe government.
Farm management received the worst government attention and people`s lack of accommodation received an equally worst handling in the record of both black and white control history. How can we begin from a record so ugly and with poor accounting as we live in today and hope to prosper? All our neighbours and Africa have benefited from the wild whims of Robert Mugabe in the name of freeing Zimbabwe. Expert farmers have boosted neighbours`GDP while Mugabe still breathe hot air on whites and the west. He has even begun insulting citizens abroad because he cannot associate criticism, despite his so-called education, with anything but the west.