Mugabe’s legacy — what do you say when a bad leader dies?

2019-09-11 06:00

THE demise of our modern-day black dictator, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, comes as no surprise given his age and fragility. His legacy as a leader will live with us for a long time to come.

William Shakespeare would have had people like Mugabe in mind when he penned the famous lines about the fact that the bad that a man does lives after them and the good is often buried with their bones. So let it be with Mugabe.

I am definitely not trying to be Mark Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar when I remember the good times I had with my late father, Arthur Bhoyi Mkhize, who influenced us as his children to idolise Mugabe as the Zimbabwean leader was rising to become one of the finest black intellectual leaders to usher in a new political dispensation in what was then Rhodesia.

Little did I know that Mugabe — the learned one, the eloquent one, and the black pride of Africa — would soon become an ordinary political monster that had as his priority political control and state looting at the expense of the very black people he proclaimed to be leading in the bush during the struggle days against white minority greed.

Mugabe’s legacy is well-documented in history books.

It boasts turning a country that was reputed for being one of Africa’s thriving agricultural hubs, into a country of people running away from its political authority amid economic decay as measured in currency, unproductive farms and scanty food supplies.

His legacy is about a highly educated and proud people who are today flooding the world with skills and sophistication that could have made Zimbabwe a blossoming flower that we thought it was becoming under a black man.

Alas, were we so gullible.

Oh God, we were so wrong! Alas, were we so misled!

And now we can only remember the old man as having contributed to the brain drain of a great people that continue shining wherever they go as professionals, farmers, tradespeople and businesspeople of note — you name it.

Mugabe’s legacy in producing an educated, skilled and sophisticated black person makes you see that indeed, we will today bury the old man’s good deeds with his bones because of his countless booboos.

Today we do not think of Mugabe who freed his fellow black people from Ian Smith’s Rhodesia of white superiority. We remember his reign of terror against his own people.

We remember him as an epitome of crass black greed and poor leadership. His time in office confirmed the saying: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I guess our own beacon light of the world, Nelson Mandela, as well as his successor Thabo Mbeki, saw this and did the right thing — relinquished political power before it corrupted him like Mugabe.

What do you say when a bad leader dies?

You feel sorry for his loved ones and comrades who benefited during his long overstay in political office.

But you despise him each time you meet a talented, skilled and highly educated Zimbabwean who does not deserve to be treated like an unwanted citizen in South Africa.

If only Africa knew what democracy is, the way South African black presidents do!

God bless Africa, guide her rulers!

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