FORMER Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will always remain a statesman who championed self-rule and true independence of Zimbabweans, independent analysts say.
The African Union (AU) has described the estranged Mugabe as the fearless leader who will be remembered as pan-Africanist liberation fighter and father of independent Zimbabwe. In its statement late Tuesday, AU welcomed Mugabe’s resolve to step down, saying the people had expressed their will for a ‘peaceful transfer of power.’
“AU welcomes the decision by President Robert Mugabe to step down from his position as Head of State following a lifetime of service to the Zimbabwean nation,” AU Commission Chairperson Moussa FakiMahamat said in the statement.
However, the AU did not characterise Mugabe’s ouster as a coup, but rather a legitimate expression of the will of Zimbabweans. “The AU recognises that the Zimbabweans have expressed their will that there should be a peaceful transfer of power in a manner that secures the democratic future of the country,” the statement said.
Though analysts believe that President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF made a mistake by not coming up with a leadership succession plan, they still argue that the Africa oldest leader will enter history book as the president who empowered his people by enabling them to own and run the major means of production.
Former Prime Minister Judge Joseph Warioba who worked with both Mugabe and former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the struggle for independence of Zimbabwe, said Mr Mugabe holds an important place in the country’s history Judge Warioba says he met both Mugabe and Mnangagwa at the negotiation tables in Geneva, Switzerland and Lancaster in UK, in 1976 and 1979, respectively, when Tanzania, as the leader of the Front Line States, was negotiating for Zimbabwe’s independence.
He dismissed people undermining Mugabe today, saying they ought to understand that he spent ten years in jail, from 1964 -74, because of his struggles against the oppression.
“Mr Mugabe displayed enormous resilience during the fight for independence because even after spending ten years in jail, he never gave up,” Judge Warioba said.
He added: “This is the leader who united Zimbabweans after independence, given the fact that there was enormous discrimination based on race and color. Even the success that Zimbabwe recorded after independence resulted from his good leadership.
” He, however, faulted Mugabe for not stepping down to let others carry on the leadership button as Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela did. University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Lecturer, Dr Richard Mbunda, said much as people may celebrate Mugabe’s quit, they should also remember that he led and endured one of the most difficult liberation struggles in the world from colonialists.
“We will be very unfair to Mugabe if we conclude that he did entirely nothing to Zimbabweans during his leadership. This is the person who led a very difficult and long war against colonialism until 1980, while majority of African nations attained their independence in early 1960s,” said Dr Mbunda.