OBITUARY: ROBERT MUGABE – REVOLUTIONARY TURNED DICTATOR
By Andrew Richards and Donnelly McCleland
On Friday 6 September, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the second President of Zimbabwe, passed away in Singapore where he was receiving medical treatment. He was born into a poor family in the south of the country, on 21 February 1924. He started out as a teacher in Zimbabwe and later in Ghana, but was angered by white imperialism under British rule, and as a result he embraced Marxism and joined the African Nationalists in their call for independence.
Mugabe was sentenced to prison in 1964 for his anti-government activities, fleeing to Mozambique after his release in 1974. There he established his leadership over the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) party and fought a determined bush war for the independence of Zimbabwe. After independence, and the election victory of his ZANU-PF party, he ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 37 years, and will be remembered for rigging elections in his favour, evicting Zimbabwe’s white farmers and for causing the rapid decline of the economy, with inflation rising so high in 2008 that it wiped out all pensions and savings in the country. Mugabe was overthrown by a military coup. On 15 November 2017 Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the Zimbabwe National Army, who on 19 November appointed Mugabe’s sacked vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in his place as president.
Zimbabwe’s new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is not called “the crocodile” for nothing, with renewed protests against his presidency claiming that Mr Mnangagwa’s government has surpassed Mugabe’s regime in brutality. In office for two years, Mr Mnangagwa has not yet managed to turn Zimbabwe’s economic sinking ship or managed to assure the protesting public of a brighter future. It’s estimated that up to a fourth of Zimbabwe’s 11 million people have fled the country, with the United Nations claiming more than a third of the country needs food assistance. It’s likely that Zimbabweans will continue to leave the country.
FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
Many of Zimbabwe’s people profess faith and trust in the Lord (more than 80%), and it will be incredibly difficult for them to keep their eye on the Lord as their country’s circumstances steadily deteriorate. But, it’s precisely at times like these that believers need to throw themselves on the Lord’s mercy and continue to trust, despite their deep disappointment and disillusionment. The large Christian presence in the nation has, unfortunately, not translated into a righteous political system. Long-suffering Zimbabweans continue to be challenged in their response to their nations’ ongoing crisis. Some Christian leaders in Zimbabwe are encouraging believers to follow the example of the Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which chose to hold their leaders accountable and to speak out and stand up for the oppressed.