Robert Mugabe, Marxist dictator of Zimbabwe and conqueror of Rhodesia, is dead at age 95. As even the liberal Washington Post recognizes, “during 37 years of authoritarian rule [he] presided over the impoverishment and degradation of one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising countries.” The liberal elites of the Western powers who aided the toppling of Ian Smith’s government (which even in its weaknesses afforded persons of all colours betters protection than what Mugabe delivered) also should share in the blame of the nightmare that became Zimbabwe.
The Washington Post even notes Mugabe’s disastrous seizure of Rhodesian famers’ land:
Faced with rising discontent [in the 1990s], Mr. Mugabe targeted one of the country’s most visible minority groups: the 4,500 white commercial farmers.
Mr. Mugabe dispatched thousands of unemployed war veterans and street thugs to harass the owners and seize their property. The government instituted a “land reform” policy that turned over the most successful farms to the political elite.
Mugabe will remain a figure of conflict for modern-day progressives. He was a fierce opponent of homosexuality, professed Marxism as Gospel truth, hated the British Empire and Western dominance, fought a civil war against the Rhodesian government, and crafted one of the most oppressive and bankrupt regimes on the planet.
It is notable that Mugabe’s last months were at a hospital in Singapore. One might reasonably expect that a “champion of the people” would use the medical services of the state he helped create, but history does show that Marxists tend to be self-serving. Certainly, Zimbabwe’s hospitals would likely not be up to par.
The present situation is unlikely to improve. Mugabe’s successor, Mnangagwa, is a veteran of the old liberation wars and walks lockstep with his former master. We can expect, in Zimbabwe and in the West, that the purification of memories of Mugabe will begin, until all that’s left is a mythical figure who slew the sons of an invading Europe and brought his people to freedom. In fact, some have already begun the excuses:
I will respect his legacy by talking about him as though he was a man, a neighbour, and someone who never did quite understand what to do with all that success. Let us honour him for having been thoroughly, demonstrably human. Nobody knows what to do with that much success. Therein lies our lesson.
Tears for a tyrant.
Mugabe was a baptized Catholic, and so it is encouraged that prayers are said for his soul.