Regionally, Mugabe was a strong pan-Africanist who believed in the emancipation of ‘our people’ as he would often say when referring to Zimbabweans and Africans in general. After Zimbabwe won its independence, he assisted many African states to pursue the armed struggle and fight for their independence. Among major beneficiaries of his benevolent attitude were South Africa and DRC though many people still argue that it was the DRC war that partly contributed to the subsequent catastrophic collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy.
He also contributed immensely to the strengthening of pan Africanist institutions mainly the then Organisation of African Unity [OAU] now the African Union [AU]. One of his agendas was to see Africa growing into an autonomous continent depending less upon international aid and financial bailout. He believed strongly in the Marxist and socialist ideologies that had transformed the booming economies of Russia and China. He argued that should the same principles that were implemented by China and Russia be adopted by Africa, the continent would emerge as one of the world’s economic powerhouse. As if in support of that notion, many researches have proved that Africa possesses untapped potential for growth more than any other continent.
Locally, Mugabe helped to transform the Zimbabwean education system to be one of the best in Africa. He strongly believed in education being one of the powerful weapons that should transform the country’s economic, political and social discourse. He was an astute educationist possessing great pedagogical traits. Firmly believing that mental slavery was one of Africa’s enemy, he was determined to make education accessible to his people. History has it on record that he acquired several university degrees while in prison. His associates testified that he spent most of his time reading when he was in prison. He was quoted often saying we must not waste our time here (in prison) but we must advance our studies in preparation for the great work of nation building ahead of us. He really was a man who wanted the right things to happen but only his insatiable appetite for power saw him slowly drifting to become a two faced both a ruthless dictator in another instant his hand is outstretched to hug with a smiling face.
Among his notable achievements is addressing social class inequalities that existed during the colonial era. Whites were a very superior race compared to the natives. Public institutions were strongly affected by the bias of tribalizing blacks while favouring the white colonial masters. To be black, to be African was associated with misfortune but Mugabe swiftly made sure that his people could stand tall. Today Zimbabweans are empowered to actively participate on all platforms which were previously dominated by whites. Be it mining, agriculture, sports, economics they are competent enough.
Mugabe crowned his legacy by addressing the land question. Though widely criticized on many forums locally, regionally and internationally, Mugabe deserves an applause for such a magnanimous stance that many African leaders failed to do for their people. Land was taken from the native ancestors by force, it had to be redeemed the same way after diplomacy failed.
Other achievements that Mugabe deserves credit for include development of marginalized rural areas, improved uptake of technology by Zimbabwe relative to other SADC countries, grooming Zimbabweans to be a socially mature people, his consistent support of the rural communities of Zimbabwe to guarantee food security, opening up the exploitation of minerals by the locals which subsequently increased their economic participation, encouraging adoption of better agricultural methods by the black Zimbabweans,
religious liberty and freedom of worship, adoption of laws and practices that improved women rights and protecting the girl child from patriarchal prejudice and encouraging female participation in weightier matters like politics economics and many other forums that were previously male dominated. Books will be written on this man as there are lot of lessons to be learnt from his mixed legacy.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
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