THE late former Zimbabwean President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, must be celebrated for his indelible contribution to the struggle in Zimbabwe, as well as the African continent, regardless of his short-comings.
Great leaders, are not known by longevity, but an enduring contribution, for the well-being of others.
When leadership is about you, it dies, but when it is about others, it revives. Mugabe by all standards is a hero, and his legacy cannot be effaced, because of his failures.
After a critical overview of his legacy, which some have loathed, or demonised, others loved, presents both contradictions, and contributions, for a mixed legacy. The three most condemned things in his legacy are; the Matebele massacre against the Ndebeles, violence against his people, and police brutality for dissent to keep his power-base, and the controversial land reforms. Depending on who looks at this great hero, they take a side of demonising him or celebrating him.
Maturity celebrates diversity
We will never agree about everything in life, but we still can – exist, as humans. Maturity celebrates diversity, while recognising your own strengths and weaknesses. That is what makes us human.
We have both good and bad, only God can transform us to overcome the bad in us, to do the good especially for others. Self-preservation, and insecurity, is the curse of leaders. Sacrifice and service for others, makes us heroes in life. Our humanity entails fallibility, not impossibility of change.
For the western world Mugabe’s ghost will haunt them forever! He stood firm to the day of his death, against any form of imperialist attitude towards his people.
He stood tall in the midst of heavy western imposed sanctions. When the UN Security Council, imposes sanctions on a nation, very few have survived them, economically.
The recent victims include, not only Zimbabwe, but, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia, among others. When the west cannot get their way, sanctions may follow against any nation sadly. What can we learn from Mugabe’s contribution?
Firstly, his call for the reformation of the Security Council of the United Nations. The arguments he advanced in this regard include; the wrong headquarters of the UN, when the majority of members are outside the western world including Africa, and Asia.
World industrialised nations
The demographic argument alone, may not suffice. Africa must earn the right to be among the most civilised, first world industrialised nations in the Security Council. This call must not die with him. We still need this voice now.
It will be impossible to manipulate, or marginalise Africa, by the west, or the east, if we develop to first world status, not to be in the Security Council of the UN. Observer status of Nigeria and South Africa, is not enough.
The UN is fast losing its relevance in the wake of; Russia, America-China trade wars. Sovereign states need actual self-determination veto power, not representative veto, as it were, in the Security Council.
Voice of the people
Secondly, Mugabe was the spokesperson for Africa. A true leader, never speaks his opinion, but becomes an embodiment of the collective aspirations of his people. Capturing the voice of the people, is the most effective communication Mugabe used mostly, except a few emotional outbursts for self-preservation, to his demerits. Otherwise, he was the spokesperson for Africa and Zimbabwe.
His oratorical skills, are second to none to this day. We can learn to communicate truthfully, and heartfeltly. People can see through, lying politicians in their propaganda.
Thirdly, Mugabe valued education. It shows in the kind of free educational policies, he enacted in Zimbabwe, before the hard –hitting sanctions. That made his presidency to be celebrated in Africa, as one of the best, in so far as educational standards are concerned. He valued learning for personal development, and earned several degrees for himself, and translated that for others to his credit.
Fourthly, Mugabe and Zimbabwe must teach Africa that development based on dependence on the East or West is un-sustainable.
African states must find home-grown solutions. So far any nation that soughtt that, either their leaders were killed, or they have been marginalised by global institutions of injustice economically or otherwise. The examples are Iraq, Libya, Zimbabwe, and Iran.
Sovereign states must be self-determined, self-governed, self-defensed, and self-developed. Africa has a mentality of backwardness that chronically depends on others, instead of helping others.
Fifthly, Mugabe had a fighting spirit to learn from. What you cannot fight for, you cannot have. He fought for Zimbabwe, before ruling it, or governing it. However, fighting is not always with a fist, but with the mindset that can benefit others beyond you.
Path of mediocity
This was his quest, but he died trying. He is better than most people, who just criticise, before they contribute. They die having never tried anything. They keep a straight path of mediocrity, and least resistance, as cowards in their generation.
Be a fighter for what is good beyond you. To win the battles of Africa, we need “solutionist thinkers” now! For this, we must build a “knowledge bank” of young leaders urgently.
Sixthly, Mugabe has taught us that we must not overstay our welcome in power. His speeches were as nice as long, but staying beyond your welcome, is like rain that washes away the harvest it produced.
Mandela left in one term, and is the most celebrated President in Africa. Staying long, does not mean you will do greater than your vision. Handover power early enough, to long- enjoy your labours.
Seventhly, Mugabe has taught us that what you do for yourself, is forgotten, but what you do for others is eternal. Self-preservation, has destroyed leaders, who started well and ended badly. People do not remember what you had, but what you did for them. Insecurity forces leaders, to do wrong things in their quest to stay powerful. It is true in Zambia and for Mugabe, corruption is rooted in selfishness, avarice, and greed. How many houses and cars can one have for themselves, when others do not even have a bicycle? Learn from Mugabe. All leaders learn. I say learn!
Movement for National Transformation, (MNT)
For First Word Zambia Ideology. And 2021 Presidential candidate.