Mugabe: Hero or villain?

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Simayedwa Moyo..Political analyst

Continued from last week’s Page 14

My feeble understanding of the creation of dissidents is that most of the Zipra soldiers could not deliberately be incorporated into the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and they were demobilised, rendering them jobless.

For those who were grudgingly merged into the ZNA, were either targeted and frustrated in order for them to dessert. When they deserted, they became the wanted, the fugitives. Running away was to them short-lived and thus thought of ways to stay safe and alive.

Some jumped the borders into South Africa and Botswana, some hid within the borders in areas not molested by the Fifth Brigade, and along the way got access to arms.

Also, those who became jobless and disgruntled became a fertile ground for the apartheid regime of neighbouring South Africa to seize the opportunity to recruit and arm them in order to destabilise the newly independent Zimbabwe which had been liberated from the white rulership.

Thus the Super Zapu was created from the persecuted ex-Zipra soldiers. I can only surmise that for most of those people recruited into Super Zapu, vulnerability is the only fitting term to describe their situation at the time.

For most of them, every option for their survival ended in death anyway, whether to remain passive or become active in defending themselves, so they chose the latter. I mention this deliberately to get a reaction from someone who knows the full details and comprehensive picture of how ‘dissidents’ became to be.

For all I know, all is ascribed to Joshua Nkomo, his Zapu and Zipra as intending to overthrow the government led by Mugabe. May history shed more light on this, as the picture is presently patchy thereby making some of us rely on conjectures and incomplete, at times inaccurate narratives.

Surely, for many of those who were subjected to cruelty as meted by the Gukurahundi, the Fifth Brigade, whether because they had deserted and dissented or they were victims of unprovoked and deliberate persecution and attack, they have only one way to view Mugabe, a scheming and calculated villain whose intention was singular, to settle some historical and personal scores with his political nemesis, Joshua Nkomo.

Again one is bound to ask, especially those who do not come from those parts affected by the massacres of Gukurahundi, if being a Ndebele or Shona was the main ingredient to qualify one for safety or death.

There are very interesting tales from the archives about how the tribal card played during those times of the Matabeleland atrocities. It is said that when the Fifth Brigade met a person, male or female, particularly males and they were Ndebele, there were no questions asked. They were by default dissidents.

However, if a Shona female was found in the Matabeleland rural areas as a married woman by a Ndebele man, she was accused of being a sellout and propagating the dissident tribe. One instance recounted that a Shona woman was found in the rural areas of Tsholotsho, as her punishment for marrying a Ndebele, her neighbours were killed and their little children given to her to look after.

If this account is to go by, even this woman can only see such an act as nothing but barbaric and diabolical. Would this woman regard Mugabe a hero or a villain although her person was spared death, but punished by being given the neighbours’ children? You choose.

Again, in his book, Cephas Msipa went on to mention something profound about the relationship Enos Nkala and Joshua Nkomo had in the early sixties when they first formed the political parties we now know existed before the Zapu and Zanu. It appears that Enos Nkala had always harboured this personal dislike and vendetta against Nkomo, which in my view grew into some colossal political madness later on, specially during the dissidents and Gukurahundi era.

Nkala was one of Mugabe’s trusted allies until they fell out in the 1990s. As we know, Nkala was the brains behind the formation of Zanu in 1963 due to his dislike for Nkomo. It can be posited that all the madness which was seeking to neutralise and exterminate Zapu/Zipra could to a large extent be tracked back to Nkala.

The tone of Nkala was never conciliatory towards Nkomo. This was also heard resonated with Mugabe himself using terms such as “crush”, ‘destroy” when describing the his fight against the opposition, which by then was Zapu.

The same connotation has permeated the Zanu versus MDC era. I have not heard such words used in the western world to describe the opposition, but I am not naïve not to remember that Zimbabwe is in Africa where emotions are whipped and the psyche of the people is aroused by using such terms against an opponent to denigrate and degrade an opponent.

Perhaps this can be traced back to historical times when raiding, vanquishing and capturing your foes was the order of the day and was always applauded. I remain to be educated more on the Nkala-Nkomo saga and their longstanding feud which may have also affected the political landscape of Zimbabwe.

Most African leaders see Mugabe as a hero, whose stamina against the imperialistic and western forces is unmatched. Amongst most worlds leaders, Mugabe stands out conspicuously as one who gave the West a clear address to hell. He was privy to the clandestine manoeuvres seeking to depose him from leadership, as that would open again the flood gates of neocolonialism.

He is known for his unequivocal voice against all manner of Western meddling in African domestic affairs, hence those who only choose to know this hail him as the “giant tree of Africa” and “pan-Africanist”.

No one needs educating regarding the means and cunningness of the western dominance in the world, and likewise, Zimbabwe like other African states is not immune to this.

It can be argued that while Mugabe was an egomaniac and self-enriching leader, as the media, particularly that of the west portrayed him, he was always perceived as a threat who became aware very early in the game of global politics at play as dominated by those seeking to propagate one race’s supremacy above others. Mugabe has gone down in history as one who refused to be molested and manipulated by the West.

In his pragmatic way of his annoyance to the West, Mugabe turned East, to China, Singapore where finally succumbed to long-illness, and Malaysia where his family is rumoured to have assets. The East is an irreconcilable nemesis of the West, ideologically, politically and economically. So it makes sense why the West will loathe him for snubbing them and seeking friendship elsewhere with little western influence.

This is a man who remains an enigma because, from all that has been said, he did not totally loathe the whites. Some have in fact accused Mugabe of having been fronted by Ian Smith, a white former Rhodesian prime minister just before the Zimbabwe independence.

Even Britain is said to have preferred him over Joshua Nkomo during the 1980 elections, thus the processes are said to have been massaged to facilitate his rise to power.

Whether that is mere conjecture, it remains to be known, but he was not hated by all, at least at the beginning. He is known to have sustained some friendships within the whites’ fraternity and conducted business with them. So, to conclude that he was totally anti-white, or totally “black-minded” will be misstating the facts. He will remain to be an enigma, who has evoked mixed emotions in the country, which have become more evident after his passing.

As stated above, I have been privy to reactions of various people of all divides in Zimbabwe as a result of Mugabe’s demise. I must say that I have friends from both divides and those in the middle. That is; I have friends who revered and loved Mugabe with their souls.

By the same token, I have friends and close relations whose abhorrence of Mugabe cannot be hidden. All you need to do is to provokingly scratch the surface, all will come gushing out like an erupted volcano. Must I mention also that, I have friends who are conflicted by the discussion at hand, because they have nothing personal they feel for Mugabe, save the fact that the country has irredeemably glided into despondency economically, making living in it not only a nightmare but a living and real hell.

So, existing within these spectrums I have mentioned, I am aware that may be most Zimbabweans will fall within one or more of the foregoing categories. This therefore makes it painfully hard to objectively state how the nation feels about a leader who has departed of such standing, disposition and calibre.

If the media is to go by, even the government of Zimbabwe and family are entangled in this spectrum of hero-villain viewpoint. It is safe to say that in spite of all the emotions, views, thoughts, love or hate Mugabe, he has indeed left an indelible mark on the wall of the history of Zimbabwe and of Africa, and definitely the world. For those who have nothing evil to say about the man they viewed as an infallible being, short of a god, he will be solely missed as a hero, whose emancipation will infinitely be applauded.

However, a sharp contrast exists for those who saw nothing but a villain in Mugabe, whose temperament was viewed as that of a self-seeking egomaniac and oppressor. They will always know and remember him in very negative memories that cannot be changed no matter what anyone says. In this case, Mugabe will not be missed.

I mention that most Africans who are arduously labouring under the yoke of neo-colonialism and pseudo-freedoms because of lack of total economic emancipation, that Mugabe will go down in annals of history as one who looked the enemy in the eye and sent him to where he belongs.
Moyo writes in his personal capacity. Views expressed here are his as a result of being a silent spectator and listener over the years and seeing the history of Zimbabwe and that of Africa unfold. — Simamoyo@hotmail.com.

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