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Proletarian issue 81 (December 2017)
Tribute to Comrade Robert Mugabe
A sad end to an illustrious life in the service of the oppressed masses.
Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe resigned the office of President of Zimbabwe on 21 November 2017 amid much jubilation and gloating on the part of imperialism and its flunkeys – inside and outside of Zimbabwe. Much venomous and racist abuse has been poured on him by the imperialist media, which have mindlessly described him as a brutal dictator who ruled over Zimbabwe through coercion, bringing nothing but misery, poverty and destitution to his people.

A life in service

The truth is just the opposite. Robert Mugabe devoted his whole life to serving his people. He served a long term of imprisonment in the dungeons of the white minority racist rulers during the early years of the war of liberation without the freedom-loving ideologues of imperialism and its paid hacks coming to his, or his fellow liberation fighters’, defence.

On coming out of prison, he guided the armed liberation struggle in Zimbabwe with skill and astuteness, forcing the British government at long last to arrange the Lancaster House conference that led to Zimbabwe’s independence.

At this conference, the sticking point was the land question. Both the United States and Britain had agreed to fund the purchase of land from the white farmers, who had stolen it at gunpoint from its lawful owners following the colonisation of the country by Cecil Rhodes’ armed hordes. But this was a promise to be honoured in the breach rather than in the observance.

To the shock of its enemies, and a pleasant surprise to its friends, Zanu-PF, led by Robert Mugabe, won an absolute and decisive victory in the elections held under the Lancaster House arrangement, and Comrade Mugabe went on to form the first government of new Zimbabwe.

He and his party did not have to share governmental power with any other party, let alone the representatives of the white minority, who had been allotted, quite unfairly, a disproportionate share of parliamentary seats. All the same, forgetting all past differences and the cruelty inflicted by the erstwhile white minority regime on the people of Zimbabwe, on the liberation fighters, and on himself personally, Mugabe appointed two white members to his government as well as appointing his long-term opponent Joshua Nkomo as the minister for home affairs.

Not being happy with that dispensation, Nkomo staged a rebellion in Matabeleland, which was rightly crushed by the government. Instead of blaming Mugabe for the resultant bloodshed, as the imperialist media and politicians alike have done, the blame should be firmly placed on the shoulders of those who staged that provocation.

Notwithstanding even that, Nkomo was subsequently invited to be part of the government, which he accepted, even serving as vice president of the country. When Nkomo died, Robert Mugabe paid an eloquent tribute to him, and he is honoured by being buried in the Heroes’ Acre, a cemetery close to Harare devoted to the patriots and freedom fighters of Zimbabwe.

Settling the land question

Eventually, failing to get Britain and the US to honour their promise to fund the purchase of land from the white farmers, President Mugabe’s government adopted the only honourable course open to it: namely, confiscation of white farmers’ land and its redistribution among black Zimbabweans, mostly poor farmers.

Had it not done so, the government would have stood rightly accused of betraying the people of Zimbabwe, who had suffered and shed blood in the fight for liberation to be able to settle this historical injustice.

Mugabe’s government was by no means the first to confiscate land. It had been done during the great French revolution by the victorious bourgeoisie. And it has been done by socialist governments from the Soviet Union, through China, to the DPRK and a number of other countries.

What was remarkable was that Robert Mugabe’s government was the first non-communist government since the French revolution to have redistributed land to the tiller. In doing so, it set a very infectious example to other countries, especially neighbouring South Africa.

It is for this reason, more than any other, that imperialism has poured its vitriol on Robert Mugabe. Suddenly, from being a “perfect African gentleman” (in the words of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher), he was transformed into a demon and a monster, and his government subjected to draconian economic and political sanctions and military threats.

Zimbabwe’s government was able to manage through a very difficult period thanks to the distribution of land, which brought a modicum of prosperity to the countryside, and the close relationship that the country had cultivated, right from the early days of the liberation struggle, with the People’s Republic of China.

Advances in independent development

During Comrade Mugabe’s period as president, life expectancy nearly doubled and education was made widely available, with the result that Zimbabwe has one of the most literate populations in Africa. Health and other social programmes were put in place.

Zimbabwe was even able to intervene militarily, alongside Namibia and Angola, in the Democratic Republic of Congo to support a fellow progressive African state threatened by mercenaries unleashed by imperialism.

The country also cut off its ties with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which were bringing nothing but misery and starvation to the people of Zimbabwe.

These are the real reasons that imperialism made a special target of Robert Mugabe and his government and did its best to overthrow that government by every means, including by funding and training the opposition.

If all the efforts of imperialism to overthrow Robert Mugabe failed, dissensions within the ruling Zanu-PF party have now obliged Mugabe to resign. We do not know at the moment the direction the course of events will take. It is our ardent hope that Zanu-PF will continue to defend and safeguard the achievements made by the people of Zimbabwe during the long course of Robert Mugabe’s stewardship.

For our part, we honour his record and achievements, which undoubtedly will go down in history as nothing short of remarkable. He has been and remains an iconic figure, deserving of the respect, love and admiration of all who love freedom and justice.

Our admiration for his long record of service to the Zimbabwean people is tinged by sadness at the manner of his departure. We would have wished him four or five years ago to have made way for his successor and to have retired as an elder statesman at the height of his glory.



For more on the history of Zimbabwe and Comrade Mugabe’s role in it, read Chimurenga! The liberation struggle in Zimbabwe by Harpal Brar, available from the Proletarian bookshop.

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