By Edinah Masanga
The people defending Robert Mugabe’s “legacy” and wading off any criticism of him by positing that we should not speak ill of the dead, need to remember one simple thing: Mugabe’s legacy is not flack-free. It is mired in corruption, political violence and an economic quagmire of unimaginable proportions.
There is no amount of how he fought the liberation struggle only to emerge as the new oppressor of Zimbabwe, that can justify the ill he did to the country and its people. Just because he died, we can’t simply ignore how many people died at the hands of his government either by its actions or its ommissions. Particularly it’s looting and the army killings under the auspices of RGM. And his repressive hand at democracy and the civil liberties of the Zimbabwean people.
The vast property portfolio he leaves behind, including his infamous sprawling mansion the Blue roof, show that the man that gave Zimbabweans hope at the country’s independence in 1980 abandoned the free-Zimbabwe-for-all mission and began looking out for his own personal interests and that of his family.
As much as the petty argument that his position and job allowed him to build such a house persists, the private life of a leader should also reflect what a country can afford for its people. Living large and dying in an equally opulent Singaporean hospital for the rich – while the general populace goes without painkillers – seldom shows the gallantry that some want to now accord the man with.
You can defend Mugabe’s legacy depending on how you see it, but you can’t sanitize it or force others not to see his legacy how they see it.