Mandela fine example for Mugabe et al

via Mandela fine example for Mugabe et al – Pretoria News December 9 2013

On a continent where so many leaders cling to power at all costs, Mandela’s one-term presidency was remarkable, says Peter Fabricius.

Pretoria – Has the example of leadership that Nelson Mandela set had any impact on other leaders, especially on this continent?

It has been instructive to see the reaction from Africa to his death. Many ordinary Africans and opposition leaders praised him, especially, for retiring from office after only one term.

On a continent where so many leaders have clung to power at all costs, that by itself was considered remarkable.

The leader of the Nigerian opposition, Bola Admed Tinubu, said: “Mandela’s death signals the end of an era of the generation of African leaders who never coveted power, but used power for the good of the greater number of their people.”

Tinubu seemed to be suffering a little from nostalgia in his recollection of past leaders. But he made his point nonetheless.

Incumbent leaders, unsurprisingly, emphasised different qualities, those, perhaps, which they thought they shared with Mandela.

For Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, already in power for 33 years and newly installed for another five, Mandela’s one-term presidency did not get a mention. Instead, Mugabe hailed Mandela as a “champion of the emancipation of the oppressed” and “an unflinching fighter for justice”.

There was no mention in his tribute of the forgiveness and reconciliation which most other commentators – certainly Western ones – have focused on.

In a documentary in May, Mugabe had said that Mandela “had gone a bit too far in doing good to whites, sometimes at the expense of blacks”.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan similarly praised Mandela “for his immense contribution to the dismantling of the apartheid policy”.

For Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta the lesson that Mandela imparted was “never to backtrack in our journey to chart our destiny”, perhaps an oblique reference to his own battle to defeat charges levelled by the International Criminal Court of committing crimes against humanity by orchestrating violence against political opponents after the 2007 elections.

Malawi’s President Joyce Banda seems to have been the only African leader who explicitly acknowledged having been personally inspired by Mandela’s gentler qualities.

She said she had borrowed the virtue of forgiveness from Mandela in forgiving the members of her own government who “completely abandoned” her when she was vice-president.

She appeared to be referring to the late president Bingu wa Mutharika and his cronies who schemed against her, including hatching a plot to prevent her succeeding Mutharika, as she was constitutionally entitled to, after he died in office last year.

Banda said she had taken a leaf from Mandela’s book and forgiven her tormentors as he had forgiven the apartheid regime.

So it’s good that at least one African leader got the full Mandela message – that there is a time to fight and a time to make peace.

Banda seems to be one of a new generation of African leaders who are also getting the larger message of Mandela’s life – of dedication to the service of their people rather than themselves and their own families and communities.

One cannot help but wonder how a leader like Mugabe regards the immense global outpouring of love, honour, respect and reverence for Mandela over the past few days. Does he consider it to be the predictable, self-serving sentimentality of the kith and kin or kindred spirits of white South Africans, ever-grateful that Mandela and the ANC did not wreak revenge on them?

Or is it possible to imagine that he might feel just a twinge of regret that he too did not use – and more particularly, bow out of power as gracefully as Mandela did – and thereby perhaps secure for himself a place in history and in the world’s heart as Mandela has?

Wishful thinking, probably. For a hard man like Mugabe, reverse psychology is unreliable. The only way to ensure respect – or at least the appearance of it – is to enforce it, and to keep doing so until you die. That’s why he has to die in office.

* Peter Fabricius is Independent Newspapers’ foreign editor.



  • comment-avatar
    Nimrod Mupanesengende 10 years ago

    You know surely you cannot compare our President Mugabe to the snivelling-white lover Mandela. The difference between the two men is like night and day, with Mandela being the night for his people and our beloved President Mugabe being the day for his people and the entire African continent. He who is loved by oppressors and imperialists is himself an oppressor and tool for imperialists. Mandela was nothing but that. He is loved by imperialist oppressors for not disturbing their cyphoning of South Africa’s wealth and for not speaking out against imperialist whilst he was President of South Africa. They will go to his funeral – the who is who of imperialism in an effort to cannonise Mandela as the model African president. That will not work. The hungry poor and the down trodden will not eat that. They will demmand a share of their country’s wealth. Those leaders are not even ashamed that not one white person lives in a tin or plastic house in South Africa, the land of plenty. They will not be ashamed by the appauling standards of living of the generality of South Africans but will sing many praise songs for a man who did virtually nothing for his people. Obama, that insincere man could not be bothered to be seen beside Mandela’s hospital bed but now wants to be seen at his funeral!!! Imperialists never end to amaze us all.

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      Sekuru Mapenga 10 years ago

      There are many more hungry poor and downtrodden here in Zimbabwe, who have nothing to eat.

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      Tjingababili 10 years ago


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      Mukoma Ben 10 years ago

      Instead of talking about how many whites do not live in tin houses, we should be asking the likes of Nimrod why he lives in a posh houde while his fellow Zimbabweans are having their shacks demolished by their demonic government. Obama and Mandela did not have anything to do with Obert Mpofu ,Gono, Chombo and others enriching themselves on the country’s mineral wealth. The international community has left Zimbabwe and Mugabe alone since 2000 and he has turned east, but has that benefitted anyone? Today the banks are under siege because they have been used to sponsor government lavish spending and to offer free loans to ZANU members. ZANU has just spent a fortune on its annual meeting sponsored by government. So please do not feel enviouus when Mandela, who served 1 term to Mugabes 33 years gets so much praise. Remember that South Africa still has its own currency and its jils are not full of innocent opposition supporters. There have been no cases of genocide of minority tribes and no one has been killed just so that soldiers can go mining for diamonds. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

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    mukanya 10 years ago

    ‘you have inherited the jewel of Africa please look after it” nyerere told Mugabe at zim 1980 independence. Mugabe never listened instead he clung onto power and ruined the jewel of Africa to a basket case and until after his death zim will remain a basket case and never will he bring it back to the jewel status, shame shame shame shame shame robeto

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    You are a mad brainwashed fool! You keep sprouting the words imperialists and oppressors. The oppressor is Mugabe! His imperialists are the Chinese who are stealing your assets and rapidly cyphoning your resources out of Zimabawe as you watch. Who is getting a share of the countries wealth in Zimbabwe? To any real extent, only Mugabe and his gang of looters. Not the povo. Three million of your people have run away to do menial work in neighboring countries because they will starve in Mugabe’s country where your unemployment rate is over 80%. The hated UN is feeding millions in Zimbabwe. By the way many white people in SA do live in plastic and tin houses, but as they only constitute 9% of that countries population there are probably more Zimbabweans living in tin and plastic in SA than whites. Your hatred is foul. I bet you were not even born in 1980. Zimbabweans quality of live was way higher before Mugabe than it is now. A fact. Education was way better then than now. A fact. No one was starving then. A fact. Clinics and hospitals had medicines and were much better than they are now. A fact. When did Mugabe, his family or any of his cronies, use a government hospital? None have for years. A fact. They go to Singapore. Why? Your roads were not potholed hazards. A fact. The country always had power. A fact. The country always had water. A fact. The country had its own currency that was stronger than the USD. A fact. The country did not have to use the hated US dollar, as your leaders have forced you to do, because they created the second worst inflation the world has ever seen. A fact. You rabid fool. Open your eyes or perhaps this letter has come straight out of the governments propaganda machine.

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    Reality sunk into me today.Chinese ignore Americans, North Korea ignore Americans.But today, they could not ignore South Africa.Really Mandela was bigger than we expected.Just a look at apartheid shooting videos will tell you that it really needs a super saint not to seek revenge.People were shot from close range .Rampant shooting with security officers closing eyes and then spray the bullets.Out of that oppressive, bloody spilling arrogant regime, a democratic leader preaches peace.The Zulu ,Xhosa wars went on for centuries.Only one man convinced it to stop.Mandela was great.When I saw the top 10 greatest people ever on earth bar Jesus, I was sceptical with Mandela running neck to neck with Isaac Newton,Shakespeare.The man was really a messiah.

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    Dear Nimrod,
    And so what would you call the Lord Jesus Christ. He countenanced only love, forgiveness, repentance, a soft and gentle heart; in fact everything He taught is the exact opposite to the things you say and to what we see in Zimbabwe today. The ANC have been in power for nearly 20years and so why is there still so much poverty or has all the money gone to projects like Nkandla. And for your information the white poverty in SA is huge. When we point fingers at someone else we must remember that there are 3 pointing back at ourselves. Where does your hatred and bitterness come from. That bitterness, if rooted will spring up and defile many and it will eat at your own heart like an acid. Let it go, Nimrod and begin to forgive. I pray for you

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    Nyoni 10 years ago

    To true NBS . To turn the cheek when slapped by another shows ones true strength. MANDELA WAS SUCH A PERSON. His love for change transcended hatred and as such moved that country forward. In contrast to others namely Mugabe. A man of God before changed only to suit his lust for power and more. By now if we had an unselfish leader our country would have been great but unfortunately this is not our case. MADIBA WE WILL TRULY MISS YOU.

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      American 10 years ago

      Jesus Christ has not and will not reconcile with the devil. His love for his people will not change what he has in store for racist invaders, murderers, gangsters and thieves. There will always be SAMBOS like you in the midst of the people and President Mugabe will always be a thorn in your lustful flesh. You know absolutely nothing about God or the prophesies of the prophets. You are perhaps one of the dumbest Zimbabwean the mdc-t has spawned.

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    MikeH 10 years ago

    How so totally different can two leaders be ? How can anyone compare Nelson Mandela and the amoeba mugabe ? Madiba has left an enormous legacy for South Africa to be proud of and live up to. On the hand, mugabe will leave just a bad taste in the mouth and very unpleasant memories, best forgotten.

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    Washumba 10 years ago


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    Nimrod you need a brain transplant what trash you talk, get a life!

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    Mthwakazi 10 years ago

    Mugabe is a gukurawundi fool; Mandela is all wisdom!!