Certainly, the country has laid heroes and heroines at the esteemed national shrine, predominantly icons of Zimbabwean’s revered liberation war, which subsequently led to the birth of the new nation we pride in today.
A nation is a product of its past events, the present manifestations and indeed the future. In the thick of things are the leaders who constitute the brains behind the nation’s social, economic and political trajectory. Of course, leaders make or break national dreams, either for the furtherance of the majority’s aspirations or the realisation of individual leaders’ selfish goals.
Zimbabwe is blessed with a leader who has withstood the test of time, a larger than life character who has scarified his entire life to the service of his countrymen, a liberator who was a thorn in the flesh for the then fiercely armed Rhodesian racist army, an orator par excellence whose presence at international forums sends shivers down the spines of his erstwhile colonisers for his penchant for the downtrodden is a matter close to his heart and a philanthropist revered by the common people across the continent of Africa. These are some amongst the great attributes of the President of Zimbabwe, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who turned 90 in February, a life well lived.
President Mugabe’s life has been that of sacrifice for his people. The death of Zimbabwe’s maverick first black barrister, Herbert Chitepo, at the hands of the racist Rhodesian intelligence outfit, was a dark period for the country’s liberation journey. The enemies of democracy and ultimately the people, the Rhodesian regime led by the unrepentant murderer Ian Smith seized the moment of Chitepo’s death to plant chaos in the war leadership by creating distrust and enmity.
The irony of it all is that they had orchestrated Chitepo’s demise and yet sought to create the impression that it was an inside job. With uncertainty hanging as to the direction of the struggle, President Mugabe was unanimously given the reins of power by the freedom fighters as his vision for the emancipation of his people was flawless.
The enormity of the responsibility to lead the struggle was a Herculean task which was not meant for the light hearted, regardless of the danger which was always hanging; President Mugabe took the bull by its horns and brought the white man to his knees. Imagine the decade or more years of incarceration which President Mugabe had been subjected to by the racist regime under dehumanising jail conditions, but still he accepted the onerous responsibility to spearhead the liberation war.
Indeed, President Mugabe led the prosecution of the struggle with distinction as the Rhodesians were pummelled into submission. Smith and his surrogates could not withstand the heat, he was compelled to swallow his big ego, and it was deflated by the freedom fighters’ resilience and success on the battlefield.
Smith literally begged for the Lancaster House Conference, it was a question of time before the gallant sons and daughters of the soil overran the capital, Harare, then Salisbury. The raging fire from the freedom fighters that had by then opened liberated zones coerced Smith to the negotiating table which culminated in the country’s independence.
With independence ascertained, the then Prime Minister, Cde R. G. Mugabe, rolled out educational initiatives which formed the foundation for the current concrete lofty educational status which Zimbabwe is lauded for. The country is Africa’s most literate nation, the undisputed king in intellectuality. All these achievements made even though the country is strangulated by this devilish economic embargo which has impeded the citizens’ social and economic aspirations.
This underlines the astuteness and brilliance of the nation’s leader; it is such foresightedness that has transformed once dormant nations into economic giants. With formidable educational foundations of its citizens, the sky is the limit for any nation whose thrust is to prosper collectively with its citizens. That’s the path nations that are today decorated with incredible wealth have pursued.
It is leaders of President Mugabe’s calibre that were bequeathed by the Almighty to this great land of Zimbabwe that can transform it to an economic giant. Yes, the revolutionary land reform programme is a step in the right direction as espoused by the revered legendary politician par excellence, Zimbabwe’s dear President Mugabe, who correctly identified that the indigenous people’s ownership of land is the beginning of good tidings for the nation at large. Add the sequel to the land reform, thus the empowerment crusade as defined by the people’s party, Zanu-PF, then all the pieces to the complex economic growth phenomenon are in place, then only the sky will indeed be the limit.
The twin pro-people policies of agrarian reforms and empowerment thrust constitute the key elements which are necessary for the nation’s economic take-off. President Mugabe has been consistent in his clarion call for indigenous people to be masters of their destiny.
The nation can only experience tangible growth if its indigenous people are at the core of its developmental initiatives. Local people participation will ignite real economic growth which will cascade to the grassroots hence ameliorating all social ills bedevilling the communities.
President Mugabe has not only fought for the economic empowerment of Zimbabweans only, he has stood for rights of the poor and the downtrodden globally, and he upholds the purity and sanctity of the ordinary men and women.
It is his firm conviction in the extraction of the natural resources from the Third World for the benefit of its citizens which has earned him great respect and admiration. Even his foes who are principally the Western erstwhile colonisers whose penchant for looting African resources is unmatched admire him for his consistency in calling for a just world order where the rights of the poor and the infirm are respected.
Whilst the nation has always celebrated the achievements of its heroes and heroines posthumously, it is high time there was a paradigm shift.
The country has to celebrate the achievements of its heroes and heroines in their lifetime. President Mugabe has been a beacon for the country, a true son of the soil, an illustrious academic par excellence whom today’s generation and posterity will draw inspiration from.
This living legend needs to be honoured in his lifetime for his sacrifice for this great nation. This is the appropriate time for the nation to show its appreciation for this great leader’s sacrifice. Long live President Mugabe. Indeed,a true son of the soil.