It is imperative to put something straight about Mugabe, Zimbabweans, land reform and elections to the world, as a Zimbabwean who experienced life under ZANU PF rule. Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, had an apartheid system run by Rhodesians. The system was very brutal towards black people, who were killed and arrested willy nilly, all means of economic production were taken away from blacks.
Black people were not allowed to vote, education provision for blacks was poor, black people were reduced to slaves, garden boys and garden girls of white people and were told they are not human beings, but baboons (bobojani). As Zimbabweans, we went to war to fight for our freedom and economic independence. We beat the white nationalists/racists/supremacists which were led by Ian Smith. As Zimbabweans, we never did wrong to vote for Robert Mugabe in the first general elections open for all. We did not vote for a dictactor, but a progressive politician, Robert Mugabe.
In the first 15 years of his rule, Mugabe developed Zimbabwe, and black people in Zimbabwe became the most educated on the African continent (and Zimbabwe up to now is the most educated nation in Africa).
Mugabe reconciled the nation, black and white. Mugabe turned Zimbabwe into the bread basket of Africa and we fed nations by exporting produce. Our Zim currency, the dollar became stronger than the SA Rand, the US dollar and equaled the Great Britain Pound. The industry boomed. We can’t be shy or ashamed that we voted for him. We can’t erase what Mugabe did in his younger years.
But what we did not vote for is the older Mugabe, who overstayed in power and became a dictator, thus reversing all the gains he had done for the country. Mugabe should not overstayed and his legacy and progress for the country would be there now. As opposition for him to retire grew, he became paranoiac, he killed opposition leaders and supporters. The majority of us Zimbabweans changed our support for Mugabe when we noticed he had changed into a demagogue and regressionist.
Since the year 2000, ZANU PF has been losing elections and has maintained power by rigging. Zimbabweans continue to suffer. White racists blame us for voting for him in the first place. We can’t be blamed for voting for a smart, progressive young man who later changed to what we didn’t want. You can’t tell us whites were better to stay in power.
Mugabe should have stepped down in 1995 and maintain democracy, by allowing opposition to rule if they win elections. Mugabe and ZANU clearly said their party cannot be removed by the X mark of pen on the ballot paper, because the country came through the gun (therefore it only the gun which can remove ZANU). ZANU PF now has a small support base (around 30%, and continues to steal every election since 2000).
White racists should stop playing innocent by telling us it was wrong to remove colonial oppressors and voting Mugabe. But what we agree to is that Mugabe later messed up, but we also know he did well initially. Mugabe became the best and worst thing to happen to Zimbabwe. THE LAND REFORM was necessary to give productive land to landless ordinary productive black Zimbabweans.
It should have been done transparently and it could have been successful. What made it to fail is that the land was given to ZANU people, ZANU top leaders and war veterans without farming expertise and it failed. Don’t tell us white governments are better than black governments. As Zimbabweans, we want our freedom now, from people who used to be good to us, good to our country, but later changed into bad leaders.