Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

'The West is upset about Zimbabwean land'

15 Sep 2019 at 06:45hrs | Views
Let us start by saying that Robert Mugabe is a Zimbabwean giant, Robert Mugabe is an African giant.

From 1960 to 2017 - 57 years - he was at the front-end of African politics, front-end of Zimbabwean politics.

Of those 57 years, (for) 40 years he was the key player in Zimbabwean politics, from 1977 after he was confirmed as the leader of Zanu at the conference in Maputo, and of the 40 years, 37 years he was running the country.

Legacy-wise the land, legacy-wise education, legacy-wise liberation of Zimbabwe, liberation of South Africa, liberation of Namibia.

Pan-Africanism, anti-imperialism â€" all those things are a solid foundation that Mugabe has given us.

We must celebrate and build on to that legacy.

On the negative side, of course, there were some challenges. You can not be on top for 40 years and have no blemish, okay! . . .

But, all those negative aspects do not take away from his heroism â€" a national hero, a Pan-African hero.

In terms of the personal relationships, he was a charming man, had a good sense of humour, a politician of conviction: very principled, well read, solid institutional memory, presence of mind.

So, it was quite an honour, quite a privilege to work with (former) President Mugabe for five years, but of course, we were coming from different political parties; of course, I had fought him for 30 years, from 1987 as a first-year student at UZ (University of Zimbabwe) to 2017.

I was his opponent, his critic; so, when I oppose him, I do so as an opponent, I do so as a victim, as it were, of the system he presided over.

But, I am saying that experience, those mishaps, do not cloud my judgement of his achievements, does not cloud my judgement of his status as an African liberator.


There are three things: first and foremost, I think the common denominator was education. He respected that I was a PhD holder from Oxford (UK). He was an Anglophile of sorts and also had a very strong affinity for education.

That was point number one in terms of convergence (with him).

Second point of convergence was history.

I am a very strong believer in history; I am a history buff, and he had so much history to tell me, so, there was also convergence around history. But not only just history, but my clarity on liberation, my clarity on the land reform programme â€" the revolution â€" my clarity on pan-Africanism.

So, he respected that although I was in the opposition, I was very clear on liberation, very clear on land revolution, very clear on revolution, very clear on the need for pan-Africanism.

The third area of convergence was that I am very principled: if it is a no, it is a no; if it is a yes, it is a yes. No prevarication. So, (former) President Mugabe liked that and he knew that with Mutambara he knew where he stood. So, when I say yes, it is a yes and I would not change, and if  i say no, it is a no and I would not change. . .

So, those three foundations â€" education (and) clarity on liberation, pan-Africanism as second pillar and the third being principle.

We got along and we spent a long time together, bilateral, the two of  usâ€" three to four hours, we would talk and share.


The importance of a historical perspective, even today, as we review his legacy, some people just take one narrative and push it. No! Take a historical perspective, look at the man's complete legacy. Do not just say Gukurahundi and, therefore, no! There is Gukurahundi, there is Murambatsvina, but there is also liberation, there is pan-Africanism, there is education, 11 years in prison and also five years in the bush in Mozambique.

So, I am saying that we must always have a balanced view, what I am calling the multiple stories about Robert Mugabe.

Do not give us a single narrative.

I have been looking at the Western media â€" Europe and America â€" they all talk about the negatives.

In fact, the West is upset about land.

They do not care about Gukurahundi, they do not care about democracy. If they did care about democracy, they would not be dealing with Saudi Arabia. They gave Saudi Arabia what we call a democratic exemption.

George Bush Senior was responsible of creating Sadam Hussein, once upon a time.

Mobutu Sese Seko was created by the Americans. They do not care about democracy as a value. Their obsession, their condemnation of Robert Mugabe is because of land. . .

The summary is that I do not want to know what the Europeans think about Mugabe. I want to know what black people think, what Africans think and what Zimbabweans think.

We are the people who make a decision on who is heroic to our environment.


Before I go to land, let me start with a general perspective.

When it comes to Zimbabwean national interest, when it comes to African interest, we are on our own.

The Americans and Europeans could care less about us.

During the liberation struggle, our Zanla and Zipra fighters were not trained in New York and London.

They were trained by the Soviets, the Chinese and the Eastern bloc countries.

Why not New York? Why not Britain? Because they could care less about our freedom and democracy.

When it comes to our land, they were not interested in getting the land to the Africans.

So, I am emphasising the fact that, yes, we are going to have relations with Europe and America, but do not be blind, deaf and dumb; do not be naive.

The Americans do not care about democracy; if they did care about democracy, they would not have placed what we call the democratic exemptions they gave to Egypt, the democratic exemption they give Saudi Arabia.

Now, coming back to land, what we need to do to honour Mugabe on land is to make sure that: number one, we create collateral value of land. Do not make land a dead asset. We must be able to borrow against land. Let us work on our tenure system so that those on the land can go and borrow money against the land.

Secondly, let us think about the infrastructure. The resources and skills required for land revolution, for land usage so that the land can perform. Let us sweat the land by providing infrastructure, providing resources, providing skills so that we can drive up use per hectare.

We must move from land acquisition to land use so that we can feed ourselves, feed the region and not only that, also move up the value chain, value addition in agriculture, agro-processing. . .

These are the things we can do to honour and build on the legacy of land, which we were given by Robert Mugabe.


We continued to keep in touch.

I attended Bona's wedding, I attended the Sibanda/Kajese wedding, he was there. I attended (Nathan) Shamuyarira's funeral, he was there; those were my last activities, where former President Mugabe was present and we got a chance to chat, but the most important period for me was the five years from 2009 to 2013, where we were meeting as three principles â€" (former) Prime Minister Tsvangirai, (ex)President Mugabe and myself â€" every Monday, and also, where I would meet with him, just the two of us, for three hours, for four hours. . .

So (he was a) very solid guy, very determined, very principled.

In spite of all the other things, we got to give credit where it is due and we must take the good with the bad.

So, let us allow heroes to be complex characters.The Europeans do that, they celebrate (Thomas) Jefferson as a founding father in America.

Jefferson was a slave owner, if not a rapist.

John Kennedy, JFK, a hero, but when you look at his history, he had issues of his own, chequered history.

So, Westerners are smart enough to know that human beings are human beings, they make mistakes, they make good decisions, so let us allow heroes, our black heroes, to be complex characters, with good and bad in the same person.

But, we do not gloss over the mistakes: we pick up lessons from the mistakes, we learn what not to do from the mistakes, but we celebrate and build on the foundation of the good aspect of the legacy; that is my message to Zimbabweans, to Africans as we mourn (former) President Robert Mugabe â€" a giant from Zimbabwe, a giant from the continent. . .

Robert Mugabe is in the genre, in the category of (Ahmed) Ben Bella (Algeria), Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Nelson Mandela (South Africa), (Robert) Sobukwe (South Africa), Julius Nyerere (Tanzania). . .


If you are going to do something good for Africa, something good for the country Zimbabwe, if you are going to do something good for the black person, the odds are staked against you, because you are on your own.

We must be politicians of conviction.

Those are the lessons, those are the insights I got personally from (former) President Robert Mugabe.

Source - sundaymail
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.