AS Zimbabweans, to cannot ignore or simply forget the good that has come under the leadership of the former President of the Republic Comrade Robert Mugabe would be doing history a big disfavour. He was a fanatic, ruthless and uncompromising in his pursuit for Zimbabwe’s independence, equal rights for its citizen’s no matter one’s colour or creed and its self-determination. The passion in his voice and rhetoric echoed the sentiments of the downtrodden and marginalized black majority.
Cde Mugabe eloquently retorted about tipping the uneven scales of the repressive Rhodesian system in favour of the black majority and justice through the redistribution of the land. He was their speaker and, in him and other fellow revolutionaries, laid the hopes for a Zimbabwe free from the yoke of the white minority.
On the flip-side his rhetoric paralyzed the white minority with fear and anguish as he confronted a vicious system they had created that guaranteed them comforts and a way of life that only kings could fathom. He was a man among men. A rare breed that comes few and far between, cut from the same cloth that gave Africa the likes of Patrice Émery Lumumba, Julius Nyerere, Samora Machel and Thomas Sankara just to name a few.
Stalwarts of the liberation struggle many of whom left their families to venture into the unknown to face up and fight the evil monster of the liberation struggle, a lot of whom were just children when they left with nothing on their backs but the strength in their hands, hope in their hearts and the determination to realize the idea of freedom; these stalwarts and comrades in arms were blessed by Cde Mugabe, his steadfast character for justice and righteous ambition.
To the thousands of friends and family that lost their loved ones who were recklessly swallowed up by the war having not realized their hopes and the idea of freedom, took solace in that they had the honour and privilege of serving heart-in-hand alongside such a man for the greater common good. Even the white minority in his reconciliatory message on the day of independence and the years that followed found comfort in his words and actions.
The nation of Zimbabwe, by and large as a whole, was blessed by him and his earlier work.
In his 37 years of legitimate or otherwise rule, marred with controversies and serious short-comings of the ruling party, Zanu PF has delivered. They delivered the land back to people. The question and the fight were always about the land. By taking back the land the levers of self-determination were now firmly in the hands of the black majority. The process of reclaiming the land, the reason and motivation that drove the process, its timing and finally and most critically the equitable distribution of the land thereafter to the intended beneficiaries are issues that still plague the nation today leaving more questions than answers.
It was a haphazard process shrouded in the virtues of redressing the land imbalances on the surface, but deep down at its root, it was an angry and bitter kneejerk reaction by the ruling elite to the stubborn uncompromising and uncomprehending positions taken by the whites to government overtures to redress the land question and changing sentiments amongst the people because of their failure to deliver on their promises which was demonstrated in their rejection of the Referendum in 2000.
The missteps of the ruling elite came at such a cost to the social, economic and political fabric of the country. Summing up the compounding effects of the going to war in the DRC, the unbudgeted pay-out to the war veterans and the land redistribution process emerged a
country no one could have imagined or predicted. Zimbabwe’s pride and dignity were gone. Once the bread-basket of Africa, her streets teamed with money changers who did not create value, instead they were the catalysts for the hyperinflationary environment that persisted and the rot that permeated through the economy.
The period was characterized by food and cash shortages, a collapsing health and education sector and a shrinking manufacturing base; the system was turned on its head. All the while this was happening, there was a growing divide between the ruling elite and people – the former president included. Nestled in the trappings that were once enjoyed by the colonial masters, add to that a young ambitious wife and control of the state machinery, the former president became increasingly impervious to groans of discontent from the people.
He would counter the growing tensions and muzzle the groans by reinforcing carefully constructed delusions by those surrounding him, that they had delivered education and land to the people who are not doing enough with it to be productive and the crippling sanctions imposed on his government by the West to effect regime change were unjustified and sabotaging their efforts.
These convictions blocked his ears to the cries of his people and closed his heart to their pain and suffering. The divide grew in direct proportion to his hardening of heart as his priorities changed from serving the interests of the people to that of his own and those closest to him. He and a group of some of the youngest, ambitious, greedy and ruthless self-serving individuals in the Party coalesced together cemented in their faith and belief in his “god” like status and omnipotent power in the party and government under the mantra of the “One Centre of Power”.
This group of individuals known as the “G40” or the “Cabal” fed off of this power and in an unabated power-hungry frenzy plunged their claws and fangs deep into the arteries and veins of the ZANU PF party, state organs and institutions, the security apparatus, media and key government ministries to consolidate their hold on power. The cabal bled these institutions dry for personal gain to feed their unquenchable greed all the while paying homage to those in the order of the hierarchy for more favour, protection and atonement for their “sins”.
The most ruthless and corrupt greased the hands with distinction and chanted the mantra of “One Centre of Power!”; the loudest were rewarded by moving further up the hierarchy at the expense of the old guard and the old order. The cabal had flagrant disregard for the rule of law, the people or the constitution. Their only regard was to prop up this system of homage that guaranteed their way of life and destroyed anyone or anything that was opposed to it.
It was a dark and sad time for the country which was going to the dogs. Zimbabwe no longer had any honour or right standing with its peers in the region, or the world; she had gone that low. The taglines once used to describe Zimbabweans such as hardworking, educated, literate, smart and illuminated had all but been reversed.
The removal of the former president Cde R.G. Mugabe and the Cabal on the 14th November 2017 and days that followed have brought about a hope and euphoria that was only felt in 1980 at the time of independence. It is ironic that the man in whom the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the nation were pinned on at the time of independence; that 37 years later it would take his removal to rekindle those feelings again.
Soft coup, no coup, coup, call it what you want to call it, what is certain is that it needed an extraordinary event of miraculous proportions to remove the unchecked and almost spiritual stranglehold the cabal exercised over the nation and its levers of power. A light is beginning to shine over Zimbabwe. It’s a new day and a new dawn. Her dignity is being restored and, once again, she can raise her head high again on the hopes of a better tomorrow. Her time has come to take her rightful place in the world and the days of old are dead and gone.
However, fear still grips the nation because members of the cabal are still very much alive and active, sowing seeds of discontentment among the people, bellowing sentiments over the unconstitutionality of their removal from the crevices they are hiding in exile on social media and through remnants left of a shattered system that are echoing and conveying their sentiments.
Let’s not mince our words; the cabal is a wicked people, void of any conscience for their malice and remorse for their actions. They scream constitutionality, yet they themselves did not uphold themselves to that standard. They scream violence, yet they too committed violence on any and all opponents. They scream media freedoms, yet they too suppressed the media. They scream state capture, yet they too got drunk off the power of the state machinery. These people should not speak as custodians of the constitution. In their time in government they dropped their masks and exposed their lust for money and power.
Any and all concerted efforts to preserve the legacy of the former president of the Republic are welcome for purpose of accurately capturing the essence of our history particularly that of the struggle. However, when it comes to the former president, there should be a mutual shared feeling and understanding on his part that concedes that the cabal was tyrannical in nature and should have no place in the future discourse of the country.
Secondly, no mercy should be shown to these vile elements and they should be brought to book for their actions which took the nation on a trajectory of death and destruction. Some of those elements are still in government and various State organs and holding positions of influence. They too should not be exempt of the sweeping tide of justice and retribution.
Most importantly, going forward, measures should be put in place so that no such thing should happen again. Power must have checks and balances, so that our leaders are held accountable to the people who elect them. Ultimately, we should be a nation moved and motivated by results instead of big and powerful characters and personalities of strong men and their parties.