The End of An Era: A New Dawn for Zimbabweans, By Ridwan Sorunke
As President Robert Mugabe resigns, today marks a new dawn in the history of Zimbabwe. The happiness of Zimbabweans can be widely seen through the jubilations on the streets of Harare. Zimbabweans are the true winners as they witnessed the end of Mugabe’s rule, its only civilian rule since its independence from Britain in 1980.
Robert Mugabe is a unique example of an African revolutionary, a hero and a savior who eventually turned into a dominant discretionary dictator who held on to power for too long. Mugabe, a former revolutionary, ruled as the Prime Minister of the country from 1980 to 1987 and became the President in 1987, a position he held till his resignation earlier today. Prior to the 1980s, Robert Mugabe was as highly reverted as South Africa’s Mandela. Unlike Mandela, Mugabe clung to power and his reputation diminished over time.
While it is saddening to see how a once- revered revolutionary and national leader was forced to resign due to pending impeachment by his own party, the ZANU-PF, it is also worth celebrating. Robert Mugabe overstayed his welcome in office, he got consumed by power, he resisted his oppositions and he ran his country into shambles. Zimbabwe, which was previously the bread basket of Africa, was left impoverished, its economy left in ruins and the value of its currency shattered by a clientelistic and patronage-dominated government. At the expense of the well-being of millions of Zimbabweans, Mugabe’s wife, Grace (nicknamed Gucci Grace), and sons built a reputation around their expensive lifestyle and high-end parties.
Robert Mugabe of today is completely the opposite of the young revered African Nationalist who led Rhodesia to Independence in 1980.
When his people had expected him to step down in 2013, 89-year-old Mugabe declared his ambition to re-run for presidency stating that he would “fight like a wounded animal” for his re-election. He fought and he won, the last battle he would win. His actions finally broke the donkey’s back when he suspended his Vice President some months ago and endorsed his wife, Grace, to take over from him in 2018. Mugabe had gone too far this time and he was met by responses by his military and his party.
As an era ends in Zimbabwe, another must begin. Zimbabweans can only hope for an era of economic growth, equality and institution of democracy. It is important that the people of Zimbabwe must leverage this moment to establish their country as a force to reckon with and re-establish its position as the bread basket of Africa. Whoever becomes the President in 2018 will be faced with herculean tasks of rebuilding a nation in shambles, driving economic growth, increasing healthcare access and reducing the huge brain drain which has long affected the country. Let Zimbabweans savor this moment of change, it is long overdue.
- Ridwan Sorunke
MA Candidate in International Affairs
Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies