The Sunday Mail
The controversy and contradiction surrounding the memory of the late former President Robert Mugabe is telling of the extent to which his legacy was abused both in life and in his afterlife.
Therefore, the idea to have his remains interred in his village in Zvimba is symbolic of a strategic manoeuvre to disconnect him from the national and continental liberation biography —to which he is a luminary.
The national shrine is a site of reflection and ideological introspection emanating from the time immemorial, triumph of every soul opposed to colonial power.
While taking cognisance of the politicking of the outwitted G40 around the body of the late pan-African icon — it is important to appreciate President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s effort of affording his former boss the honour that he deserved.
Prior to his demise, President Mnangagwa ensured that Cde Mugabe’s welfare was well catered for right up to the end. This was quite opposed to how other political leaders who fell-out of favour with power were treated.
Ironically, this depicts the extent to which President Mnangagwa has remained consistent in tirelessly preserving the dignity of the founding father of the First-Republic.
At the same time, President Mnangagwa’s honour to Cde Mugabe sets the precedence as to how we must value the grand players of our national history.
To this end, his respect and benevolence to RG Mugabe beyond the superficial factional contradictions, which were resolved in November 2017 substantiates the extent to which President Mnangagwa exalted the late founding father right up to the end.
Clearly, the motive of turning down the Party’s decision to privatise the grand farewell to the iconic nationalist was all a rehearsed projection of Mugabe’s isolation from ZANU-PF.
In so doing, Mugabe’s legacy was trivialised to sustain the narrow interests of the G40. This is because those who took custody of his legacy in his last days are no longer in ZANU-PF.
Surely, consistent as he was in the early stages of his devotion to nationalism, Cde Mugabe would not really reject the very nationalist powerhouse (ZANU-PF) which he sacrificed days of his youth for.
How on earth would he not want to be associated with the very institution which made him? It is clear that G40 was much more concerned about unmaking Mugabe from his early political-self which cannot be disjointed from ZANU-PF.
G40’s ultimate aim was to erase the folly of its disconnection from history and the Party by isolating Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe from the institution of ZANU-PF and the ideology that it embodies.
Having been an artificial and sham elite in ZANU-PF without credentials and revolutionary tutelage, G40’s plot was to capture the historically rich and political astute effigy of Mugabe and bury it with their lost cause in Zimbabwean political memory. Burying Mugabe away from his political roots (Heroes Acres) they did, but they will never dismantle the foot-prints of Mugabe’s affinity to ZANU-PF.
Essentially, G40’s script was that of projecting Mugabe as a victim of the ‘coup’. The selective misfortune of that narrative is the reality of benefits and privileges which the former First Family continued to enjoy at the benevolence of those alleged to be plotters of Mugabe’s ouster.
To say Mugabe was dislodged through a ‘coup’ would validate his leadership misrepresentation by the opposition as a ‘dictator’. This explains why Cde Mugabe’s widow, Grace Mugabe went to the far extremes of conniving with the opposition to appropriate Mugabe in a bid to dislocate ZANU-PF’s public favour in the 2018 elections. In so doing, the effect was disastrously futile and injuring to both the opposition and G40 kingpins.
The smearing strategy by G40 does not come as a surprise to objective followers of Zimbabwean politics, hence through his shrewd political foresight — from the onset, President Mnangagwa made it clear that the wishes of the family with regards to Cde Mugabe’s burial will preside over those of the Party.
A Heroes Acre without Mugabe: Doomed?
The omission of attempting to denigrate the Second-Republic by ditching Cde Mugabe’s Heroes-Acre burial could have been primarily hinged on the view that without Mugabe’s tomb at the national shrine the place will lose its significance.
This simplistic type of logic is ignorant of the perpetual relevance of the Heroes Acre as a monument of enduring values. Consequently, the prominence of the Heroes Acre is not derived from any individual. None is greater than the core ideological tenets it represents to our past and the perpetuity of our sovereign national interest and the generality of the African nationalist movement of Africa.
The Heroes Acre represents a people — their ideas and not a person. The persons therein are a creation of the ideas the Heroes Acre epitomises.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier adequately expresses that it is not about the names of those whose mortal bodies were laid to rest there, but it is their immortal cause which stands to be preserved.
Therefore, the political soul acquired by Robert Mugabe as a nationalist and a revered pan-Africanist are symbolically enshrined at the Heroes Acre with or without him there.
As such, if the spouse of the late former President, Grace Mugabe or without a doubt Robert Mugabe did not want to have anything to do with Heroes Acre they should have lobbied for the exhumation of Sabina Mugabe and Sally Mugabe from the Heroes Acre.
If the former first Family genuinely wanted to distance itself from ZANU-PF it should have ceded the properties that belong to ZANU (PF) which it is still occupying.
Now what remains of the living is to ensure that the memory of Robert Mugabe is positively exploited to harness strategic convergence and dissident underpinned on the nation-building project of the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa. Now that G40 has displayed its candid dislike of the ruling ZANU-PF and the values it represents in the mapping of the national question, the importance of Operation Restore Legacy becomes more apparent.
The icon’s legacy might have been villagised, but his heart and soul will always be at the National Heroes Acre, where most of the people with whom he spent 7 decades of his life are resting.
Giving him a peasant’s burial does not equate him to one. He forever remains illustrious.
Lewis Mathuthu is the Deputy Secretary for the ZANU-PF Youth-League