By Sapien Sapien
For five decades, the name Robert Gabriel Mugabe was synonymous with the land between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. An enigma of a person, the character rose to prominence due to a myriad of factors, chief among them biological attrition of his comrades who died due to one reason or the other, most of them, in mysterious circumstances.
Two years after his demise, I write my thoughts about this person, a definite oasis of wisdom, a political demagogue and a pariah who chose to go to bed with Gregory Rasputin-like characters at the expense of his longtime comrades.
I will analyse Mugabe, the person and his style in stages.
1980- late 90s
Mugabe became, overnight, a western puppet who sold out the soul of the liberation struggle to the erstwhile enemy at the mere promise of trinkets, perquisites and grandiose comfort.
Through a robust and strict adherence to and with the provisions of the historically flawed and cataclysmic Lancaster House Agreement, Mugabe was a revered icon, a global statesman and a “champion of unity”.
Words such as dictator et al were not used to make reference to him as he wined and dined with the devil, being rewarded with all sorts of titles just in an effort to create a post-colonial model of an African stooge who would do nothing to change global exploitative structures in the post-colonial African state.
His posture and diplomatic poise marginalised those gallant sons and daughters of the soil who sacrifised limbs and lost their loved ones during the White Genocide era of 1966-1980.
Because of his complicity, candidates fit for Nuremberg Tribunal kind of trials were allowed to walk free under the guise of “reconciliation” while victims of gallantry were rewarded with the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” at the National Heroes Acre.
It is during this epoch that the Matabeleland Disturbances, better known as Gukurahundi occurred.
The so-called international community turned a blind eye and allowed Mugabe to be. This simply because he was a willing petty bourgeoisie who would not stop at anything to ensure that the colonial master is happy with the status quo
Mugabe the pan-African stalwart who took, head on, confirmed liberal icons, former US president George W Bush and former British premier Anthony Blair and their surrogates emerged between 2000-2014.
This statesman, labelled conveniently a dictator, realised his mistakes and allowed sons and daughters of the soil to claim what rightfully belonged to them, which property was looted from them via conquest and not talks and the loot cemented through the promulgation of fascist laws such as the repressive Land Alienation Act of 1939, the Land Husbandry Act of 1951 and a plethora of colonial land tenure acts.
This version of Mugabe was unapologetic about what he stood for, basically telling the west and all its surrogates to go to hell whilst taking whatever measures and interventions available to ensure that historical wrongs were made right.
It is and was during that era that allegations of human rights abuses were conveniently piled upon the man, with the issue of Gukurahundi beginning to take more prominence.
This version of Mugabe was a shrewd pan-Africanist who got punished for what he then was believing in and whose image was soiled, blackmailed whilst he himself made fatal errors of commission and omission, chief amongst them being the electoral violence that characterised elections in Zimbabwe. However, the character remained steadfast, unyielding and ready to confront neoliberals and their hostile agenda
Octogenarian and nonagenarian years
The third and final version of the Mugabe that I know is the octogenarian and, later on, nonagenarian geriatric who oversaw the decimation of the legacy of the struggle through an inherent belief in the efficacy of bedroom politics over structural issues.
Here was a leader, so much divorced from the mechanics of power and the instruments of national power that he was so much into himself and the efficacy of his legacy and tribe.
Just like Mao before him, he allowed an ambitious young wife to run rings around him, remove him from his allies and adopt a bizarre belief in the supremacy of an eternal presidency capable of leading the country from the grave.
He created silent enemies within his immediate circle whilst the chopping and purging of his former friends made him vulnerable to attacks from within.
He died a bitter man, not surrounded by his friends but instead receiving praise from those who accused him of persecuting them.
Amidst all this, his late life was defined by the presence of what Robert Green refers to as a siren of a wife.
I am yet to make a comprehensive study of his late former wife Sally but I remember telling friends as early as 2013 or thereabouts when certain signs started to emerge that Grace had certain hints and attributes of a modern day Zimbabwean version of Jian Qing, wife to Mao.
Then, I even predicted how that character was going to be Mugabe’s biggest undoing. Time proved me right.
Grace was a certified loquacious character, young and “personally ignorant” as to what constitutes “The Office of the First Lady” if ever such an office exists.
Her transformation from being a secretary to being a bedroom partner of arguably one of the most powerful human beings in Southern Africa post-Shaka the Zulu was predicated upon a total lack of respect as to how statecraft operates.
The conflation of the state presidency and supremacy of being happened during the period Mugabe was married to Grace. Qing had been married to Mao for over 30 years till September 1976 when the great Chinese lost his life.
The influence of Qing can be seen to be at par with the influence Grace had on the Mugabe presidency.
Opulence was the DNA of Grace especially when she decided to be the overt arbiter of the political discourse within Zanu PF. She basically shredded the party constitution to smithereens and before long was a member of the Zanu PF politburo, in a feat that would have made the biblical Delilah’s bones turn in her grave, wherever that grave is located.
Definitely, Mugabe was complicit in the numerous episodes of chicanery and subterfuge woven by Grace.
This was premised upon an inherent belief in the utility that would be adduced from such for he believed that his comrades respected him to a point of respecting his wife and her shenanigans.
Essentially, Mugabe got corrupted by power and sex to a point of losing himself to a naive political goddess who herself did not comprehend ideological issues beyond the bedroom walls.
Sapien is a trade and security specialist.