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Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe's liberation pilgrimage

18 Apr 2021 at 08:58hrs | Views
In my previous instalment in this publication, I indicated that Zimbabwe's independence history is connected to that of all post-colonial African nations. Likewise, Africa's liberation is also grounded on paternal nationalism constructed around liberation father-figures predominantly occupying the African memory space. Ghana's liberation is best memorialised in close reference to Osagyefu Kwame Nkrumah.

Zambia's liberation cannot be remembered outside the illustrious contribution of papa Kenneth Kaunda. Tanzania's liberation tale would be incomplete with no mention of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. In the same vein, South-Africa's liberation cannot be discussed without acknowledging Steve Bantu Biko.

Today as Zimbabwe turns 41 it's hard to ignore the lasting mark of the late former President of Zimbabwe and the revolutionary Zanu-PF, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. His life and commitment to struggle for Zimbabwe's liberation struggle cement the conception and continuity of the broader African decolonisation agenda.

The paternity of Zimbabwe's independence is organically attached to his journey as an ideologue of Black liberation. The 18th of April as a moment of reminiscence is met with highly polarised emotions in as much as the remembering of African father-figures is concerned. This is driven by the colonial dimension to imagining our nationhood within the conflicting terms of our partisan binaries.

Mugabe's legacy offers a two-fold appreciation of Zimbabwe and post-colonial Africa's interaction with the hegemonic residues of imperialism. The African post-colony is a product of post-independence power construction by colonialist powers. The anti-colonial philosophy continues to find its place in independent Africa because of colonialism's unfinished business in the entire continent.

Zimbabwe has served as a case-study in proving the unfinished reality of Africa's political economy and social restitution from the effects of imperialism. Robert Mugabe played an instrumental role in bringing a turnaround policy against the inequalities that imperialism entrenched in Zimbabwe.

He mutated from being a pre-independence nationalist hero to a post-colonial advocate for the fall of neo-colonialism. The Mugabe policy concern to address the fundamental structural problems of the superficial post-colonial transition made Zimbabwe to be at loggerheads with colonial powers.

From a broader perspective, African liberation objectives remain contested –with the neo-colonial partiality of power fighting to erase the illustrious gains of our people towards Uhuru. The continued effort to silence the victory story of African nationalism over colonialism is equally sustained by the relentless demonisation and disparaging of the decolonisation project. To this end, when the story of Zimbabwe's liberation is discussed today, we are constantly reminded about the magnitude of African nationalism's failure to deliver the aspirations of our independence by those nations that fought against African nationalism.

The celebration of our independence suffers the systematic silencing of the virtues of liberation. We are made to forget the sacrifices which brought our freedom to life. We are made to remember African nationalists as dictators and stooges of Western political culture impositions. To date, Mugabe is a disfigured entity who is merely remembered as a despot, murderer and violator of human rights in the eyes of the West. Beyond such imperialist labels, Mugabe is on record for calling Africans to despise imperialism's self-imposing decrees on the national questions of the day in Africa:

"Today we tell those dissenting nations that the days of colonialism and neo-colonialism are gone, and gone forever. The era of white colonial "whispers behind the African throne" passed on and got buried together with Lord Laggard the author of this anti-African, neo-colonial notion… Today it is America and her illegal sanctions which dare raise a censorious voice over our affairs. Yes, today it is these Anglo-Saxons who dare contradict Africa's verdict over an election in Zimbabwe, an African country."

The above extract from Mugabe's speech projects the anti-colonial attitudes which should shape African liberation interests. Mugabe's luminary role is even emphasised in the autobiography of one of his long-serving cabinet ministers, Dr Obert Obert Mpofu who argues that:

"The mark of Mugabe's influence continues to permeate across the political acumen of all of us who served under him in both the party and government. No doubt, the impact of his rich leadership is also visible in the statecraft of his successor, His Excellency, the President and First Secretary of Zanu-PF, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. Having been a close protégé of Mugabe for more than 50 years, President Mnangagwa embodies the political genius which was much needed to carry on the virtues of our revolution beyond the Mugabe era (Mpofu 2020: 12)."

Given the hope for ideological continuity in the pursuit of Zimbabwe's ongoing process of decolonisation, it is important to note that Mugabe's omnipresence in our politics cannot be downplayed.

One of the awakening points of Mugabe's philosophical signification was his ability to discern the Western capitalist sponsored charade on human rights, democracy, good governance and rule of law. The same rhetoric sponsors of neoliberal democracy continue to pursue the dispossession, looting, exploitation and plunder of Africans and their resources.

By abandoning Economic Structural Adjustment Programme and leading Zimbabwe towards the land appropriation policy Mugabe became a re-claimer of the concept of economic democratisation. Mugabe's anti-neoliberal position demarcated a realisation of the exploitative binary of Africa's interface with capitalism as observed by Moyo, Yeros and Shivji (2020: 266):

"In the neo-liberal world, the locomotive and engine of the worldwide capitalist accumulation are located in the North, making nonsense of the so-called 'locomotives of the South'. If anything, the 'locomotives of the South' are sub-stations pulling the Southern wagons behind them on an onward journey of integration with the North. The surpluses of the South produced by the super-human effort of its working people are sucked into the belly of the Global Minotaur servicing the twin deficits of the United States, leaving the people in sub-human conditions. This is primitive accumulation on a global scale."

The post-land reform image of Mugabe embodies the ethos of pan-Africanism in as much as his legacy has suffered neo-liberal disfiguring. Mugabe's refusal to continuously seek imperialist validation in his post-ESAP policy-making route resuscitated the anti-colonial dimension of his power base. With the implementation of the land reform and its political power utility to Zanu-PF Mugabe became more attached to the liberation grounded philosophical contestation of White minority hegemony.

In response to his attacks on imperialist monopoly, the West accelerated its anti-Mugabe propaganda. As a result, Mugabe remains philosophically defined in two conflicting registers of imperialism and anti-imperialism. Those aligned to views generated by the empire through anti-land reform-driven media houses, think-tanks and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) will selectively rationalise Mugabe as a tyrant who promoted corruption, suppressed opposition Movement for Democratic Change and its CSO proxies.

The bi-polar persuasion to patriotism pronounces the contested emotions, thoughts and perceptions on what it means to be alive at a time like this. Happy Birthday Zimbabwe. How old are you now? We wish you many more. We wish you many more Zimbabwe. We wish you many more!

Richard Runyararo Mahomva (BSc-MSU, MSc-AU, MSc-UZ) is a Political-Scientist with an avid interest in political theory, liberation memory and architecture of governance in Africa. He is also a creative literature aficionado. Feedback: Twitter: @VaMahomva & Email

Source - sundaynews
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