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The transformation of Robert Mugabe from Liberation hero to one of the most hated dictators in the world has been a really depressing spectacle to witness. But surely the change would not have been so tragic had Mugabe stepped down way back in the 90’s when Zimbabwe still had a vibrant economy and a very bright future. Had he stepped down then, he might have been forgiven for some of the crimes that were committed by his brutal regime and would have continued to be revered as a Zimbabwean founding father.

By Sharon Pikirai – Human Rights Activist

There is no doubt that his early years in power will be seen as a partial positive on the social and economic fronts. He expanded education and health facilities in areas around the country. Agriculture also benefited from expansion of Agricultural extension services to peasant farmers which resulted in increased output of all major crops. Sadly all the successes scored in the first decade of Mugabe’s rule have all been reversed by the brutal policies from the late 90’s to date.

Education is almost as good as non-existent with the majority of the population unable to foot the education bill and professionals leaving the country. (Brain drain) The health sector is on its knees and a large percentage of the population is starving as a result of some of the horrible ZANU PF policies. Unemployment is a staggering 90 % and poverty is at its worst ever since. The life expectancy of most Zimbabweans has plunged to a merely 35 years of age and more than a quarter of the population has abandoned the country. From being the bread basket of Africa Zimbabwe has come to be an economic basket case.

Mugabe changed not because he wanted to reclaim the land from the whites and defend Zimbabwe’s sovereignty but because his political power was threatened by a number of issues including the formation of a true political party that gave ZANU PF a proper challenge since he took over power and from then, Zimbabwe was on a road to a brutal dictatorship. Like most dictators Mugabe has revealed only a glimpse of his inner self and has avoided close bonds that might betray his vulnerabilities to the larger world. And consistent with all dictators all he has done has been directed at retaining power at all costs.

And now that he has been endorsed as the next general election candidate for ZANU PF, we can only imagine how bad the situation will turn out to be with all political parties gearing for the elections. Now the ANC, according to Matashe who represented ANC during the ZANU PF’s annual congress, will be helping Mugabe and ZANU PF win the presidential and parliamentary elections due next year.

That is so appalling to come from the ANC who are supposed to want freedom and fairness for all. How dare they offer to support Mugabe in any way when he has caused nothing but bloodshed, misery and pain to his own people? Surely these are the very own people who should be standing up against him and encouraging him to step aside and leave room for the fresh and young blood to rule the country.

Our hopes and dreams as a nation have been held hostage to Mugabe’s steely determination to stay in power until he drops dead. Over the years, torture has been his main instrument and I’m always asking myself if Mugabe was ever a man of peace and reconciliation or violence and vengeance.

Was he ever a man of peace and democracy? How then did our parents get blinded so seriously in their judgement of him that they voted for him in 1980 and what lessons can be learnt from such a murderous dictator? Mugabe must go one way or the other and perhaps the devil needs an assistant to speed up this man’s death.