Robert Mugabe has passed away, but his legacy will live on for better or worse
– With his reign as Zimbabwean president spanning nearly four decades, the fallen leader’s impact on his country is written on the wall
tigblog.com.ng explores the politician’s lengthy career, taking a look at quotes and scandals from his time at the helm of his nation
Robert Mugabe was president of Zimbabwe for almost as long as the African nation was an independent country.
Robert Mugabe ruled Zibwabwe for 37 years with his regime heavily criticised for dragging the country into economic crisis and political unrest.
His legacy to both his nation and Africa spans over a 37-year-long reign over Zimbabwe; here are some key quotes and scandals from his time in power:
“The people’s votes and the people’s guns are always inseparable twins.” – Mugabe, 1976
He was a formidable intellect and despite his modest background, he managed to attend the best schools available to him as a black citizen in colonial Zimbabwe.
Much like Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, Mugabe attended the University of Fort Hare in South Africa.
Arrested with no charges
Returning home in 1960, Mugabe immersed himself into the underground opposition, taking up a top role in the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) eventually, reported the Mail&Guardian.
The year 1964 saw Mugabe arrested for ‘subversive speech’, resulting in a decade-long imprisonment despite not being subjected to any charges.
“Cricket civilises people and creates good gentlemen. I want everyone to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen.” – Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe- Southern Africa’s breadbasket
In 1980, a merger saw his political home transformed into ZANU-PF, and the first independent elections in Zimbabwe saw Mugabe elected president by a landslide.
He was lauded as an African hero, relishing the attention given by both his nation and the international community.
However, Mugabe’s authoritarian streak was compounded by the power he enjoyed. Joshua Nkomo, a liberation icon, was the highest-profile victim of this, fleeing into exile in 1983.
‘Gukurahundi’- The rain that washes away the chaff
Between 1983 and 1987, Mugabe deployed the Fifth Brigade to purge the Ndebele community out of Matabeleland, making way for the Shona to take over.
The Zimbabwean president had dubbed the operation ‘gukurahundi’, a Shona word for the rains that wash away the useless chaff and make way for the crops to grow.
The Shona, in this effort, was regarded as the healthy seed, while the Ndebele people needed to be ‘washed away’.
It remains unclear how many perished at the hands of this operation, with estimates between 8,000 and 30,000 victims.
“This Hitler has only one objective: Justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be Hitler tenfold.” – Robert Mugabe, 2003
From beloved to despised
After allowing power to sink and flow in his veins, Mugabe’s degenerated into a tyrant who fell out with his people, the citizens he had taken oath to serve and protect their interests.
He slowly metamorphosed into the dreaded iron-fist leader who subjected his people to impunity and dictatorship.
1. Mugabe was known for his ruthless removal of comrades and opposition members
2. Zimbabwean foot soldiers were sent to perish in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while both him and his generals enjoyed smuggled minerals.
3.The president authorised the seizure of white-owned land, encouraging force to be used
4. Money was printed to secure loyalty, destroying the nation’s economy in the process
5. In 2002 and 2007, he managed to bully his way into leadership, out-rightly stealing or intimidating his opposition out of his path.
“I have died many times – that’s where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once.”- Mugabe
Ultimately, the late president will still be mourned, but his footprints on the future of Zimbabwe will linger for years to come.