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Demystifying Robert Mugabe's Pan-African bubble

22 Sep 2019 at 16:18hrs | Views
When the dust settles, it's time to write. I have just watched Ian Bedowes' engagement of Robert Mugabe's legacy, which got me thinking. I was reminded of my very robust, 'no walls barred' WhatsApp response to Winston Mano, following his post on Facebook, in which he presented Robert Mugabe as an 'icon' and a 'champion' of the Pan-African ideal and 'Black pride.' This coming from a man (Mano), I held with so much respect dented my confidence in humanity. If anything, it infuriated me more when he responded on WhatsApp arguing that Robert Mugabe was '...many things to many people.' Imagine this coming from an academic! Honestly, what many things can a murderer and brute be to any sensible person other than being a criminal? I was disgusted, but immediately remembered one of his former colleagues from the University of Zimbabwe, Maurice Vambe who raised a slightly similar argument about Gukurahundi genocide a few years back, which invited a very robust response from my esteemed colleague and brother, Dinizulu kaMacaphulana. I then invited him for a public engagement of this subject on Facebook. He flatly declined, to the extent of literary disappearing from our WhatsApp group, which later got disbanded. But from that engagement I was able to see the tribal nature of the Zimbabwean narrative! It confirmed that Robert Mugabe was a tribalist who masqueraded in the respectable garbs of 'nationalism.' His pedantic usage of English and his accent, including his Pan-African pretence that he often exuded for convenience tricked many genuine Pan-Africanists and ordinary Africans into believing that he was a genuine Pan-Africanist when he was not. Mugabe was just an educated mass murderer - who brutalised Africans!

Ian Bedowes in his engagement of the Mugabe legacy raised some very important observations.

I was, like many, I guess, quite disgusted by the revisionist narrative ANC is trying to peddle; that ZANU helped them during the struggle, when it is common knowledge that Mugabe's government working closely with the South African Apartheid government literally deported cadres from uMkhonto weSizwe who had fought along side ZPRA back to Zambia. I have evidence of this because one of the ZPRA commanders who was tasked to escort them back to Zambia after ZANU had threatened to arrest them was my direct sibling. Also some of the ANC cadres that had operated within Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle had to hide by changing their names, others were hounded, arrested and killed. While some were thrown into prison. Thabo Mbeki can testify on this as he was one of those who also faced that problem. So it's time ANC stopped this 'fork-tongued' nonsense of 'double-speaking.'

As for Cyril Ramaphosa, I am not surprised because he never was part of uMkhonto weSizwe. If anything, he was just doing business with whites pretending to be a negotiator, with the system obviously positioning him for the post he now holds. So I am not surprised. But what disgusted me most is Mbeki's position about Mugabe. His PanAfrican rhetoric has gone way beyond any imaginable limit. This will cause, even some of us who genuinely respected him as an 'elder statesman' to begin to respond directly to him. It is of no use for elders who know the truth to begin to massage it, for whatever reason. It is common knowledge that ZANU had no good relations with ANC during the liberation struggle, owing to the latter's relations with ZAPU and ZPRA. That explains why Mnangagwa managed to easily cultivate a very close working relationship with the Apartheid Government; including working with them to create a group they called, 'Super Zapu', as a scapegoat for pursuing their Gukurahundi project, which they had mooted, planned and finalised in Tanzania and Mozambique - thanks to the advice of Julius Nyerere. While the story of 'Super Zapu', is yet to be told in the fullness of time, it might help to highlight that it was formed under the aegis of an operation code-named, 'Operation Diamond', which Mnangagwa and the rest of those thugs who have now captured the state literally knew about. Part of that operation included hounding and brutalising some ZPRA cadres who had been integrated into the the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), the intention being to cause them to desert so they could then be labelled as 'dissidents.' As the old adage goes, '...when a lion wants to feed on its young ones, it first accuses them of smelling like goats', ZANU through this operation engineered conditions conducive enough for them to then enter Matebeleland and brutalise people, in the process labelling everyone, including children as dissidents. This was a purely Shona tribal project. Its foot soldiers included the likes of General Gunda (the late), Gen. Nyikayaramba, Gen. Muzilikazi, Gen. Chiwenga, Sanyatwe, Perence Shiri, Tungamirayi (the late) with Mnangagwa as the kingpin. Lest we forget, this same Group was working closely with Zimbabwe's white community to trade in ivory; something that was discovered by Col. Nleya who after making this discovery reported to his superiors in Harare, and got brutally murdered by General Nyikayaramba. This story too remains one of those that will be told in the fullness of time. But it's safe to say Robert Mugabe was fully aware of all this and he approved of it. In fact, he sanctioned it.

It must be added that Sally Mugabe was fully involved in some of these dealings, including the Willovale Scandal.

I do realise that Ian Bedowes mentioned some of the things that he posited as some of Mugabe's positive contribution. He particularly mentioned, education and Mugabe's leadership in the SADC allied forces' Congo intervention. Ian Bedowes' engagement of these two issues turned out to be very simplistic and at best superficial. Let me respond, at least, to these two.

First, as he rightly observed, Mugabe inherited a functioning system when he took over from the Rhodesians. The economy which had long been 'slightly' sidelined had developed it's own inward mechanisms of growth and it was inward facing. That as a result had a telling effect on the education sector. The education system in Rhodesia which already  had been designed to anchor that of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland followed the stencil of the British system. Except that it was designed, this time around, to produce a middle class lot that had no clearly discernible path of translating theory into practice. So the education system that Mugabe inherited from Ian Smith, while it was good enough, it still was quite useless. In fact, it should be remembered that Ian Smith and the rest of the White colonisers created a system that did not encourage education which empowered Blacks. That kind of education system was designed not to empower Black people to even develop skills to think independently, lest they learn how to revolt. Mugabe inherited that kind of education system and perfected it. That explains why even to this day when you look at those who completed their University degrees and College graduates from the early 80s to around the mid-to the late 90s you will realise the lot that seriously suffers from a marked intellectual gridlock. This is a generation that was turned into scavengers - i.e., preferring to benefit from the spoils of the 'liberation struggle.' Most of them even went into civil service and were seriously depoliticised. This argument is still corroborated by the UN's statistics and facts that peg Zimbabwe's literacy rate at around 90 - 96%, but with a Skills rate of around 33%. These statistics alone are so telling about this empty rhetoric on Robert Mugabe's contribution. Besides, it must not be forgotten that Mugabe did what he was supposed to do. To celebrate him for establishing that education system is like celebrating a builder for constructing a structure when it is his duty to do so.

Then on the issue of Mugabe's intervention in the Congo that Ian Bedowes celebrated, I once explained this in some of my writings; in 2003 and in 2007. The latter was even serialised by the Standard Newspaper in 2007. It should be noted from the outset that Robert Mugabe marshalled the SADC Allied Forces for his own selfish reasons. This was mainly because it had been raised to him that the Americans, the British and the rest were planning to use Congo as their 'gateway' into Southern Africa - their aim being to distabilise and to remove certain leaders who had overstayed in power. You will recall that upon hearing that Mugabe immediately called Nelson Mandela who at the time was still serving, informed him and in the process requested that they form a strong pact to fight the Westerners. Mandela's response irked Mugabe. Mandela refused to be part of that arrangement, choosing instead to remind Mugabe that he actually planned to step down so he didn't feel threatened by the Americans at all. That forms one of Mugabe's long standing issues with Mandela. Mugabe immediately turned to Sam Nujoma, an easily excitable old fool, who was later nicknamed, 'Sam the Nam-Zim', for his love of Mugabe. Sam Nujoma agreed! It must also be remembered that exactly at that time, Sam Nujoma had just caused a serious massacre of the Caprivians, following exactly the Gukurahundi style that had been pursued by Mugabe in Matebeleland. He then turned to Dos Santos of Angola another brute who had murdered thousands in his country. In his approach to these leaders, Mugabe framed his narrative to suggest that the West was working with Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the rest of Dar-Es-Salaam's University cabal, and Paul Kagame as their fronts to destabilise the interlacustrine region, after that the SADC region will be their next target. They believed him. He turned to Zambia. The Zambians refused. You may wonder why Mugabe genuinely believed that Paul Kagame and Museveni were working with the West. Look no further. Remember, Mugabe at the time was providing sanctuary to a lot of Hutus who had fled Rwanda, most of whom had genuinely participated in the brutal massacre of the Tutsis, leading to the Rwandan Genocide. Mugabe as a murderer and a criminal knew this. Some of us who went to the University of Zimbabwe at the time actually went to class with some of these Hutu murderers who openly defended the Rwandan Genocide. So Mugabe genuinely believed that Kagame disliked him.

Having managed to find allies in Angola and Namibia, Mugabe operating as the leader of of SADC's Security portfolio decided to hastily arrange a rescue party for Kabila who was under siege after dissing his Banyamulenga counterparts. Mugabe operating without the approval of the Zimbabwean parliament deployed Zimbabwean soldiers into the DRC. They quickly warded into the troubled Congo and rescued Kabila through an operation called 'hot extraction.' Chief among those who led this operation was a Commando called Brig. Gumbo, whom Kabila showered with loads of presents and money after that encounter.

So at the centre of the Congo issue was Robert Mugabe's selfish motive - to block what he perceived as a real threat from Kagame and Uganda. As we shall explore this one day, it would be important to also know that at the height of the Congo campaign we witnessed the collapse of relations between Rwanda and Uganda. Students of politics may want to explain what had happened. The answer lies with what the Zimbabwean army actually did to cause those two friendly states to end up carrying arms of war against each other. All these issues need to be carefully explained.

It's time to burst this Pan-African bubble, whose merchants present it dressed in the respectable garbs of 'academia', yet presenting their Collective subjectivity as 'objectivity.' Robert Mugabe was a brute. He was a murderer who presided over the massacre of thousands of African people, including a Genocide in his own country, Zimbabwe. For anyone to then present him as a 'selfless' Pan-Africanist is not only a deliberate contradiction, but a genuine act of criminality. Otherwise, how can a mass murderer be presented as, '...many things to many people', when he is simply a MURDERER?

Source - Dr Brilliant Sigabade Mhlanga
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