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Zimbabwe or Mugabe?

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“Heritage, in essence, is how a people have used their talent to create a history that give them memories that they can respect, and use to command the respect of other people. The ultimate purpose of heritage, and heritage teaching, is to use a people’s talent to develop awareness and a pride in themselves so that they can become a better instrument for living together with other people” – African History.{{more}} It is in this historical descriptive context that one may be best able to redefine an appreciation of Mugabe’s contribution to the development of a system of changes experienced in Zimbabwe.

Is Zimbabwe a nation on pause? According to a dissident policeman who claims to have been briefed on Mugabe’s plans, Robert Mugabe is preparing to defy international pressure and launch a systematic crackdown in Zimbabwe aimed at reversing his defeat in the recent presidential election. What then will be the next move by Robert Mugabe? Is this a sure sign that violence will prevail? It is extremely important to understand the history of Zimbabwe and Mugabe before we can come to any conclusion, since a “people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots.”

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in a clear statement noted that, “No-one thinks – having seen the results at polling stations – that President Mugabe has won this election. A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all, the credibility of the democratic process depends on there being a legitimate government.” England’s comments remind me of one of Mugabe’s famous quotes to past Prime Minister Tony Blair, “So, Blair keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe”. Notwithstanding such however, the problem in Zimbabwe is real, the answer is needed.

Robert Mugabe, 84 years old, was born in 1924.Until the age of ten his life can be best described as idyllic. He spent his early childhood years tending to his grandfather’s cattle and participating in a normal childhood life. Mugabe described as a young man of exceptional ability constructed an academic base at St. Xaiver Missions in Kutama. At this institution Mugabe learnt of “the white man’s world” as well as traditional ways of Zimbabwean life. After training in the mission in Kutama to become a teacher, he won a scholarship in South Africa earning the first of seven degrees.

During the first decade of his ruling, particular attention was given to the development of education and health facilities for the poor and working class people of Zimbabwe. Numerous schools and hospitals were built as Zimbabwe prospered under the leadership of Robert Mugabe. Dumso Dabingwa, the former Zapu intelligence chief, who served as Mr. Mugabe’s home Minister, describes Mugabe as an extremely committed and conscientious leader who scrutinized every form of business involving the business of the Zimbabwean government. As a proponent of what may be considered as an extreme application of sovereignty Mugabe was clear that, “countries such as the U.S. and Britain have taken it upon themselves to decide for us in the developing world, even to interfere in our domestic affairs and to bring about what they call regime change. It was in this vain that Mugabe furthered that, “If the choice was made for us, one for us to lose our sovereignty and become a member of the Commonwealth or to remain with our sovereignty and lose membership of the Commonwealth, then I would say, then let the Commonwealth go.”

This time, for the first since independence, Mugabe’s victory is no longer a given and he faces one of the toughest battles in his political life. While the streets of Zimbabwe remain peaceful, there is fear that the declaration of the result may lead to violence. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said this week that the absence of a transparent solution to the impasse could mean the “situation could deteriorate further, with the serious implications for the people of Zimbabwe”. The situation is escalating very rapidly in Zimbabwe, and violence must never be advocated as a tool used to hold unto political power, and particularly so when the necessary democratic process would have taken its course. As the international community continues to watch and wait for decisive action, this weekend we must reflect and offer our prayers for the people of Zimbabwe.

Saboto Caesar is a lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.

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