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Robert Mugabe: Lessons to be learnt

Letter from America with KENNETH MUFUKA

Nations, like families, learn from past experiences.

The death of Robert Mugabe, the second president of a liberated Zimbabwe, 1987-2017, brings many memories to us all.

I will propose the following ideas below in some detail.

The death and acrimony that followed Mugabe’s death is a direct result of Zanu PF’s failure to create a peaceful predictable succession process.

Secondly, Zanu PF engages in shaming ceremonies for those out of favour with the leadership, often followed by gruesome murder, poisoning and accidental car accidents or house fires.

I have addressed these issues before when President Emmerson Mnangagwa and former vice-president Joice Mujuru were on the chopping block — one of them escaped from poisoning and the
woman was undressed in public (her words).

It is time to change your ways and adopt a more civilised attitude towards different opinions.

When going to press, I was lucky to read a homily from the Holy Father Fidelis Mukonori. The homily is as follows, illustrating the fact that I am not the only one who have realised
this shortfall.

“You don’t have to destroy your opponent, you don’t have to destroy your political competitor, you don’t have to destroy your business competition, no, and you don’t have to destroy
somebody who does not belong to your party.”

Lesson number two

For the sake of brevity, I will defer the second lesson to my learned brother Tino Chinyoka, in his Tuesday Letter.

“I (will) never suggest that your grief is not sincere. From you, a father, a husband, and an uncle, yes a benefactor has been taken away. Your grieving (will) therefore be sincere.”

We can add that perhaps millions in Africa and in the Atlantic Diaspora whose forebears left the continent in chains will miss Uncle Bob. He was a hero to them; he spoke their
thoughts and expressed their hatred of the white world.

There are many in Zimbabwe who became filthy rich from nothing (Zimbabwe English) and these will miss their share in the looting machine. At US$1 000 per diem, people have bought
houses from a single two-week all expenses paid trip with Uncle Bob to New York.

If I were to list his beneficiaries, including his two boys, who became famous in Johannesburg party trail for their US$800 per bottle champagne, I would not make an end of it.

So is life. My great teacher, JMD Manyika, would say: “Kenny my boy, remember that for every addition you make on the right side, your left side is making a subtraction.”

While these beneficiaries prostrate themselves before Uncle Bob’s coffin, and show off, outdoing each other until they are hoarse: Ndasara ndoga chokwadi! (I am now all by myself)

Some mothers will threaten to kill themselves, banging their heads on the coffin so hard, they become insensitive. Young men will be employed to prevent such calamities.

These are genuine feelings. We will watch from a distance, with sad quietude.

For everyone who benefited from ill-begotten gains, others were impoverished and driven to destitution.  

In 2007 I was appointed as patron of the Zimbabwe Global Forum, a federation of displaced Zimbabweans.

I visited the Methodist Church in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, where 1 250 Zimbabweans were sleeping in and under church pews designed for 200 members. The local congregation called
for the Bishop’s dismissal.

These makwerekwere (wanderers) have increased in South Africa, and we must face the issue sooner rather than later.
Uncle Bob lived in some splendid quietude in his second home in Singapore since April, his nephew says, until he fell sick two weeks ago.

The elders of the  Zvimba paramountcy who have honoured him with a chiefly title are breathing fire at the dishonourable way he lost power.

All these shenanigans are true to form and part of Uncle Bob’s repertoire, unforgiving, never forgetting of insults, and yet never taking blame.

The lesson to be learnt here is two-fold. It is a lesson the United States constitution makers learned from King George III.

No one man would have so much power that he alone can move against the people’s representatives.

Further, no one man should stay long enough so that half the senior appointments owe him a favour.

I remind our readers of Zanu PF methods of leadership renewal.

Uncle Bob, in death, remembered the unceremonious way he left power, but did not recall the shameful way he treated those who had served him loyally for 40 years.

I remember him, at 92, wanting to box Didymus Mutasa in the ear.

What goes around comes around!

The Mexicans had a similar problem. Their solution: one six-year term, non-renewable.

Lesson number 3

To avoid future acrimony, a Mugamba’s death must be followed by a public memorial celebration open to the public.

Whether the burial is at Heroes Acre or at a tribal village should be left to the family.
In that way, the state will kill two birds with one stone. The family can ask for assistance if they need it.

The South African problem

The desperation of Zimbabweans in South Africa is a direct result of one Mugabe personalising all the activities of a state, destroying the goose that lays golden eggs.

I must remind our readers that we did not have this bloodthirsty approach in Zapu.

As we were going to press, a video was published in which a Zulu terrorist was cutting off the eyes of a (presumably) Zimbabwean and then his throat. There was a huge crowd watching
and speaking Zulu.

By failing to declare martial law, the South African government is complicit in this treacherous act.

The Zimbabwe government must face these atrocities head-on. They will not go on. Sooner or later, Zimbabweans will have to be repatriated from there.  


It has been suggested that the passing of Mugabe will open the way for burying the hatchet with Gukurahundi.

There is no need for endless commissions and consultations. A public apology must come first.

After that, the names of families that suffered must be compiled and terms agreed on national compensation.

While it was Mugabe who concocted this Gukurahundi, it was a national shame for which we all must atone.

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