THE BLOG

Zimbabwe Needs A Chance To Reclaim Her Place As A Respectable Nation

I will be happy to see Robert Mugabe go.

15/11/2017 13:19 SAST | Updated 15/11/2017 13:19 SAST
Alexander Makarov / Alamy
The Zimbabwe flag on a suitcase.

There was something very ominous about General Chiwenga's statement on Monday. It was a break in Zimbabwean African National Union (ZanuPF) tradition (including the military) in times of conflict. Ordinarily they close rank and work out their problems internally although the drama invariably plays out in public.

I feel relieved and happy. Both my parents fought in Zimbabwe's war of liberation and what was clear to me from a young age was that they strongly felt Mugabe had betrayed the values of the democratic revolution my parents felt they would have been part of, when they had gone to fight a war.

My father left university at 21 while my mother left high school when she was about 14 years old. It hurt watching my mother especially, struggling to reconcile the promise of Zimbabwe in 1980 with what she had become. This is not what she fought for.

There is this romanticized myth of Robert Mugabe on the African continent as the defiant Pan africanist. It is an image of him I have struggled with for a while especially as a foreigner here in South Africa. You meet people who fetishize Mugabe as this larger than life African hero who has stood up to white farmers and given the land back to Zimbabweans.

Mugabe is only a hero to Africans outside Zimbabwe. In 1996 when Svosve villagers invaded farms after being frustrated with the lack of land reform after 16 years of independence, Mugabe had them arrested. It is only after he lost a referendum in 2000 that land became a necessary of not expedient issue in order to curry favor with a lot of disaffected rural Zimbabweans.

It is sadly ironic that on the pavement's of Harare's Robert Mugabe road in the city centre, you'll find scores of vendors sleeping at night because they have failed to make enough money for taxi fare to go home.

Meanwhile, Mugabe's recalcitrant sons party up a storm in exotic locations around the world, while Grace's elder son unapologetically flaunts his family's ill-gotten wealth with vulgar posts of expensive Rolls Royce vehicles. All this while Parirenyatwa Hospital (Zimbabwe's largest referral hospital) has no antibiotics or pain killers.

If this is a coup and if he does step down, I will be happy to see him go. Zimbabwe needs a chance to reclaim her place as a respectable nation where people have the means and the ability to determine their own lives. I am glad this personalization of our once great country is coming to an end.