By: Rumbidzai Dube, 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow. Photo courtesy of Terry Mutsvanga, 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe!

I grew up listening to his speeches in international fora and from these speeches my love for international law and international affairs bloomed.

I learnt the value of being assertive; as a people and as a nation, in a world beleaguered by the oppressive forces of racism, capitalism, imperialism and neocolonialism from him.

I strived to be eloquent like him, and when in one of his speeches he said that he learnt how to speak so well through reading; I began to read and have never stopped.

He was defiant, cocky and most self assured in what then seemed like his singular conviction in a purposeful fight against forces undermining Zimbabwe’s growth and prosperity.

But as I grew older, his flaws became more magnified. He wasn’t the self-assured man I believed him to be but a mortally wounded soul, hungry for validation; and violently petulant when he did not get the validation from his own people, hence the electoral violence.

I began to see that he would stop at nothing to gain power, to consolidate power and to stay in power; even if it meant getting rid of the very same people he purported to serve.

I discovered he had no tolerance for those who spoke truth to power against him and his ideas, even as he spoke truth to power globally; against the inequality of supposedly equal nations in the UN; against an economic world order that starves that poor to feed the rich; against war economies that are sustaining their obesity off the carcasses of African women and children, victims of war.

I saw him cast women and children into the cold and destroy people’s homes for voting “wrongly” – code for “against him.”

I witnessed the brutalization of Mugabe’s opponents and I remember missing 8 lectures on Constitutional law in law school, and then eventually my lecturer, Dr Lovemore Madhuku came to class, he had bandages wrapped all around his head. Mugabe’s goons had left him for dead.

In 2008, I and others in Zimbabwean civil society documented some of the most heinous crimes committed against Zimbabweans for voting against Mugabe. People were maimed, women were raped and watched their children getting killed so that Mugabe could remain in power.

I watched him become a paranoid, old man, arresting Munyaradzi Gwisai and others for watching videos of the Arab Spring. Then, I knew he was aware of his deep unpopularity and was taking after his fallen friend Hosni Mubarak.

I have watched my parents struggle to survive on the little I can provide; yet if they had retired in a functional economy they would afford to take me and all my siblings on vacation. Over 40 years of service they gave to this government and were rewarded with poverty and indignity as their life’s work and savings were wiped out in the economic crisis that Mugabe and his cronies created. For this, I will never forgive him!

He could have been one of Africa’s greatest statesmen alive, if only he had learnt when to quit!

 

Learn more about Rumbie through her Presidential Precinct Impact Story.

 

This article is a commentary on the recent end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule in Zimbabwe. Emmerson Mnangagwa was recently sworn in as Zimbabwe’s Interim President. While this article does represent the views and vision of a member of the Presidential Precinct community, its content should not be considered a direct representation of the Precinct’s organizational views or vision.