Believe it or not, Robert Mugabe was once viewed by his people as an African revolutionary hero.
He was instrumental in the liberation struggle that helped free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism and white minority rule.
At the turn of the century, a barrage of political and economic errors, and a refusing to step down from authority, he has since become a political villain, known for dictatorship, economic mismanagement, widespread corruption, racial discrimination, human right abuse, suppression of political critics and crimes against humanity – Mugabeism.
In 2002, under ZANU-PF, his political party where he also served as chairman, Mugabe contested as an incumbent in a rather questionable election and won. He had become an autocratic leader and only continued to rule using the element of fear and not respect.
His leadership is characterized by economic downturn as decisions were not made from learned perspectives but at the will of the democratic dictator.
In 2013, he reviewed the constitution, bordering on the presidential tenure and it was passed into law, pegging a tenure at five years and a maximum tenure of two for any given president. However, it did not apply retrospectively and therefore, he was not restricted from seeking re-election.
Although the Zimbabwe situation may be a singular event, it is a mirror of African politics where leaders have sought to stay in power longer than the constitution permits.
Power-drunkenness, greed and corruption are commonplace in the corridors of power. Constitutions amount to naught as they are often customized to suit ruling parties with no recourse to the general public!
The major reason the cumulative African economy suffers can be credited to the “laissez faire” behaviour of our elected leaders who oversee and authorize lobbying, politicking, rent seeking, favouritism, tribalism and general mismanagement of public funds with no one to account to.
These acts bring about reduced economic efficiency, through poor allocation of resources, actual wealth creation, lost government revenue, increased income inequality, increased crime rate, brain-drain and potentially national decline.
Zimbabwe has taken the same route all other African countries have by installing a new president. However, the obvious question is this: Does this translate to better days?
Judging by what we have seen in other African countries, it is pretty much the beginning of another struggle.
Written by Temitope Shomuyiwa