Times Select 09 September 2019

Justice Malala

Insulting the West while thieving from your own does not make you a hero, but a brutal old dictator

The ANC has always been first out the gate when it comes to defending what people in Tshwane townships call nyoso (nonsense). Within hours, if not minutes, of the announcement of the death of Robert Mugabe on Friday the party of Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela had issued a statement extolling the virtues of Robert Gabriel, he who died in a Singapore hospital and whose children luxuriate in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

ANC voters had spent the past two weeks attacking, in some cases murdering, and looting businesses owned and run by Zimbabweans and other foreigners. ANC voters had taken to the streets vociferously telling these same foreigners to “go home” to Zimbabwe, accusing them of stealing their jobs, their “women” (that always cracks me up – they “own” women?) and taking opportunities away from them. Why, one wonders, do these ANC voters not ask their party leaders why Mugabe was such a great leader and why he deserves such adoration? Why have his people – and his family – essentially fled his country and now live in SA or elsewhere?

Mugabe did two great things. First, he helped defeat colonialism and brought down the dreaded Ian Smith regime in Zimbabwe. For that he should be honoured forever. Second, he nurtured one of the best education systems on the continent, producing some of the continent’s foremost writers, scientists, educationists, legal eagles and others. He did that at least until 2008 when the country fully and finally collapsed.

And that’s it. That’s all. 

I know, I know. His defenders will start banging on trying to whitewash this monster. But it won’t wash. This is a man who arrested Joshua Nkomo and others and then murdered tens of thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans in Matabeleland in the 1980s simply because they favoured a different political and economic path to him. And before you start uttering nonsense that Nkomo was a sellout or some such rubbish please remember that he was the man the ANC preferred to win the first post colonial elections. He wasn’t a sellout then, was he, when he was in alliance with the ANC? The ANC was shocked when Mugabe’s Zanu won.

After murdering and jailing his political opponents Mugabe then started stealing from his own people. He owned houses in SA and Singapore. He made a string of poor policy choices. He systematically destroyed the civil service, the infrastructure and the institutions of democracy. In 2002 he stole the elections in broad daylight. If you don’t believe me ask Mugabe’s friend Thabo Mbeki. The former SA president asked two judges to assess what happened in Zimbabwe and they gave him a comprehensive report that showed murder and mayhem in those elections. He hid the Khampepe report from scrutiny, thus teaching his young protege in the EFF, Julius Malema, that it is better to stand with dictators than with the oppressed.

In case you ever doubted your judgment about Mugabe, check out his praise-singers. Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Mugabe’s “great personal contribution” to Zimbabwe’s independence.

“Many important dates in Zimbabwe’s modern history are tied to the name of Robert Mugabe. He made a great personal contribution to the battle for your country’s independence, to the building of Zimbabwean state institutions,” Putin said.

Nyet, Comrade Putin. Institutions? He destroyed Zimbabwe’s independent judiciary, jailed journalists and shut down newspapers en masse while using the country’s constitution as toilet paper.

Infrastructure? Hahaha. Nothing works in Zimbabwe. The hospitals don’t work. Mugabe died in a hospital in Singapore. He wouldn’t touch his own hospitals although he was always the first to tell Zimbabweans to use local. What a hypocrite.

Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters and alleged fighter for ordinary working-class people, was also quick off the blocks with praise for Mugabe. He tweeted: “I’m saddened by the passing of our martyr & giant of the African Revolution cde President Robert Mugabe. Let’s continue the fight & protect his legacy. We must not allow our enemies to tell us how to remember him; we know our heroes. May his soul rest in revolutionary peace.”

Protect his legacy? The EFF must be deaf, blind and have a huge hole where its heart should be. Mugabe’s legacy are the millions of Zimbabweans who work in SA and elsewhere after fleeing his despotic and ruinous rule. After Mugabe’s 37 years in power, Zimbabweans have nothing to show but exile, poverty, corruption and hunger. Meanwhile, Mugabe’s children are living it up in Hyde Park and elsewhere, buying million-dollar cars and beating up women, while ordinary Zimbabweans are being attacked in the streets of Joburg.

The people of our continent should really take some lessons from the passing of this brutal old dictator. Mugabe has taught us that we shouldn’t take the nonsense spewed by some among us that insulting the West while thieving from your own makes you a hero. It doesn’t. Real leaders empower and enrich their people.

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