Former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, has died at the ripe age of 95. He died in exile in Singapore after a long battle with his failing health.
The late Mugabe was known to have courageously obtained freedom for his country from the white minority that ruled them for decades. He did this by leading the guerrilla movement that gave the British backed white minority leaders a fierce fight which eventually secured the liberation of his country, Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans saw him as their hero after their independence from the white folks.
As a president, he immediately turned his country around for the better by greatly investing in education and health. He introduced economic policies that greatly improved the living standards of the average Zimbabwean. Their economy was adjudged one of the most buoyant while the minimum wage his government introduced was highly complimented. Global investors made his country a hub for different business ventures while UNESCO rated them one of Africa’s top 10 in Adult Literacy. He provided basic health facilities to the nooks and crannies of Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans regarded him as a mini-god, having made their country one of the most prosperous in the whole of Africa.
Twenty years after these great feats, however, Mugabe changed for the worse. He became intoxicated with power. He introduced economic policies that made life unbearable for his people. He was later to be despised by his people for introducing a Land Reform Policy that violently annexed the farm holdings of the white folks and redistributed them to Zimbabweans who ended up mismanaging them. The majority of the land ended up belonging to army officers, cronies and party members.
Mugabe continuously connived with the Army to rig elections in his favour until the same Army toppled him in November 2017 as they feared that he might be succeeded by his wife, Grace Mugabe. He was succeeded by Emerson Mnangagwa who used to be his ally in the Military.
Mugabe’s rule brought in hunger, hardship, brutality and economic recession. Medical institutions collapsed as a result of neglect and their once commendable health indices became a colossal failure. Corruption became the order of the day and he ruled his country like his own personal property. During every election in the country, lives were lost as political succession became a fatal struggle for power. He greatly empowered the Army by paying them handsomely to help him forcefully obtain loyalty from his opponents or kill them in their refusal to do so.
Mugabe certainly will not be the first African president to embrace dictatorship, be intoxicated by the power it wields and subsequently be destroyed by it. Paul Biya of Cameroon has spent, just like Mugabe, 37 years in office. Just last year, he won the presidential election for the seventh time. The Late Mamman Gaddaffi ruled Lybia for 42 years before he was ousted, while Hosni Mubarak of Egypt ruled his country for 40 long years.
It is about time Africans put a stop to autocratic systems that produce power drunk dictators. The moment leaders are allowed to see their countries as their personal property, they are bound to mishandle the power that comes with it.
It is unfortunate that Mugabe who came in a hero left as a villain. It is indeed, a lesson for fellow dictators.
Mugabe once boasted that only God who appointed him could remove him. Death has finally removed him and hopefully, other leaders will learn from the lesson of his rise and fall.