Unlike in South Africa and in his native Zimbabwe where hagiographies of deceased former president Robert Mugabe were the norm, London’s Daily Telegraph did not mince words. In a leading article published on 6 September 2019, the newspaper chose the headline: Robert Mugabe was a monster who destroyed his country.
The unsigned commentary went on to state:
“Robert Mugabe once said of his rule: “Only God who appointed me will remove me.” God has finally decided to call time. Mugabe died yesterday at the age of 95, two years after being ousted in a coup. He leaves behind one of the poorest countries in the world.
“When he came to power in 1980, Zimbabwe had tremendous potential as a farming nation, and there is no denying that Mugabe put money into clinics and schools. But his grip on power was cemented early on by ethnic cleansing in Matabeleland, and later he gave the green light to a war on white-owned farmland. White farmers were not the only targets: a slum-clearing programme, for example, left at least 750,000 homeless. Money-printing destroyed the economy and life expectancy plummeted from 61 to 45. Zimbabwe’s tragedy has become a regional crisis, as refugees have poured into South Africa, driving up social tensions.”
Julius Malema, leader of the radical EFF party in South Africa, tweeted:
I’m saddened by the passing of our martyr & giant of the African Revolution cde President Robert Mugabe. Let’s continue the fight & protect his legacy. We must not allow our enemies to tell us how to remember him; we know our heroes.
May his soul rest in revolutionary peace. pic.twitter.com/wpvQm3Waf0
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) September 6, 2019
But the Daily Telegraph had the last word:
“Whatever fantasy Mugabe entertained of himself as a leader, by the end his greatest achievement was his ability to cling on to power through a mix of corruption, brute force and the lingering reputation as a revolutionary. Ultimately, it was his own cronies who took him down; at first there was hope of reform, but they have proved every bit as incompetent. Inflation stands at 175 per cent and around a third of the population requires humanitarian assistance.
“Change is impossible without democracy. Thirty years on from the collapse of the Berlin Wall, we have seen that those countries that expose their elites to scrutiny and fair elections enjoy the greatest development. Until Zimbabwe embraces human rights, this cycle of tyranny and poverty will continue.”
Read also: Mugabe’s bloody reign of terror in Zimbabwe