Yesterday, Zimbabwe celebrated its 36th year of independence. Since this day, there has been only one president, Robert Mugabe (affectionately known as Bob). For many Zimbabweans he is the only president they have ever known. Who is this Robert Mugabe? My colleague Maunze Rumbidzai is Zimbabwean and tells below her view to the topic.
“For many in the West, Mugabe is a despot who has reduced his country to ruins. But for many Zimbabweans he is a freedom fighter who brought an end to the apartheid regime that ruled Rhodesia as Zimbabwe was formally known – a time when racial segregation formed the day to day lives of Zimbabweans, as was the case in neighboring South Africa.
Many Africans, Nigerians, Togolese, Cameroonians, you name them; speak fondly and respectfully about Mugabe. This is often made evident to me when walking in Munich with my friend from Zimbabwe. Many Africans here tend to greet each other upon meeting. Whether they know each other or not. Oftentimes this greeting is in the form of a simple nod of acknowledgement but in the rare occasion people do stop to exchange words and inquire about each other’s countries of origin. Often comes awe and admiration when they learn that my friend is in fact from Mugabe’s land. For many Africans, he is the hope for Africa’s strive towards autonomy from Western influence; which is a stance that has a lot of resonance for many Africans. Mugabe is the man who took the land back from the minority white farmers and allegedly gave it back to his people.
At face value it all looks rosy for the Zimbabweans. Then one is forced to take a closer look at the struggling masses most of whom are just barely surviving, mostly thanks to the remittances dutifully sent by family and relatives living abroad. What happened to all the fertile land that was promised to the masses? Allegedly distributed among the high echelons of the government and yet the people of Zimbabwe continue to struggle to survive from one day to the other. The few war veterans (men and women who fought during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle), who were lucky enough to get some land, can barely manage to till the land they acquired, leaving it lying fallow. Mugabe is accused of turning what was once Southern Africa’s breadbasket into a basket case.
As Africa’s oldest president, Mugabe is expected to rule Zimbabwe until 2018 when his current term comes to an end. At which point he will be 94 years old…”