Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

Mugabe’s bitterness driven by jealousy of Mandela?

Christopher Hitchens in a recent article in Slate magazine entitled – “Mandela Envy” — postulated the following — “But I have a theory of my very own: I believe that Mugabe was also driven into a permanent rage by the adulation heaped internationally on Nelson Mandela, an accolade of praise and recognition that he felt was more properly due to himself. And, harboring this grievance, he decided to denude his own unhappy country of anything that might remind anybody of Mandela’s legacy.”

“In doing this, he had only to dust off the old “one settler, one bullet” propaganda of the past. But it has been that very thing, finally, that has cost him some South African support. The leader of the Zimbabwean opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, is a celebrated labor-union man. The South African unions have a long record of allegiance to old-line communism, highly disdainful of Maoist adventures and Chinese meddling. China may now be a capitalist dictatorship and Mugabe a capitalist dictator, but these are not the least of history’s ironies if it’s an old-style red-labor-union tactic that begins to bring Mugabe down.”

Whether or not Mugabe’s bitterness is driven by jealousy of Madiba is not, for me anyway, the salient point of the article. What is of significance, is the fact that the butcher of Zimbabwe has repeatedly shown that he is not married to any system or ideology.

Here, for example, we have seen Mugabe’s complete transmogrification from Maoist communist to capitalist dictator — all in the name of obtaining and then retaining power. Principles and people are irrelevant, the result is the thing.

Now, against this backdrop, and the disgusting events we are witnessing in Zimbabwe, we are required to assess Mugabe’s overtures towards a government of national unity :

I’m not going to bore you by repeating the same old details regarding Zimbabwe’s current plight – we all know that Mugabe has destroyed the country to the point where only billions in aid will save its people. I will also spare you another blow-by-blow description of the Zanu-PF’s tactics at this election, despite which the electorate sent it a clear signal – time to go.

I would however remind you that Mugabe and his party are refusing to release the results of the election – ordering the puppet ZEC to do a recount despite never advising anyone of the outcome (it boggles the mind) — all the while burning down houses, killing people and testing the political waters via the Herald “newspaper”. (Get yourself a copy, its thoroughly absorbent — but make sure you fold it before use ; gives it that twin-ply effect)

In addition I feel I would be failing in my duty if I didn’t point out what Mugabe did to his other “partners” like Joshua Nkomo and ZAPU once he was in power. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

Of course the fact that rather than yield to the wishes of his people, this rogue decided to buy arms from China to kill and intimidate those Zimbabweans who dare to oppose him, must not be forgotten either.

Oh yes, and the little matter of the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai winning the election, despite enormous rigging, must not be excluded when you factor in the reasons why the MDC should have a government of national unity.

Why should they?

Did Mugabe suggest a government of national unity when he thrashed everyone else at the first multiracial election? Of course not! Why should he have? He won it fair and square. Why should Tsvangirai now accept the people, who have put themselves above the people of Zimbabwe and made their lives a living hell, into their government?

Absolute garbage!

Worse, it will retard the influx of aid to that country. Do you think that the big hitters will pump in anything but token aid to a government that still has Mugabe and his cronies in it? Do you think investors will return to the country where Mugabe is set to steal the majority shares in Zimbabwean companies “for locals”?

It will hasten further capital flight and retard the ability of the MDC to make substantial decisions which, of necessity, requires sacrifice by the Zanu-PF and the rest of its cronies.

What must happen is that the party that won the election must assume power. This is not the end of white rule guys, this is an ordinary (rigged) election which Mugabe, because he is so unpopular, managed to lose.

What part of this concept is difficult?

As for Mugabe’s jealousy towards the great Nelson Mandela I would suggest that he rather concentrate his efforts on comparisons with leaders like Stalin, Hitler and Amin. Men who, like himself, would murder their fellow countrymen to benefit themselves.

Madiba stands among the greatest men of all times — Mugabe is a butcher who must find his place among those evil tyrants who unfortunately litter the history of mankind.

To be fair I’m sure there must have been some decency in Mugabe at some point in time. No doubt this would have been at a time when his ambitions and those of his followers collided. Once they became a burden, as in the case of, for example, Nkomo or even the Zimbabwean people, then no measure was harsh enough. If this means wiping them out with Chinese arms or even Chinese troops, so be it.

Of concern will be Jacob Zuma’s position if accurately set out in the New York Times.

He appears to be not only lending support to the government of national unity but also condoning Zimbabwe’s attitude towards Britain and America.

Just a couple of points on this — If someone had suggested to JZ that after Polokwane that he share the ANC leadership, what would his response have been? Why would he expect Zimbabweans to accept it?

The hostility between Britain and Mugabe goes way back as is described in this article in the Independent (UK)

If anything, this clearly demonstrates that Mugabe can’t let go of the past. He would not let Britain and Nkomo off the hook, he burns down houses, kills and tortures the people who vote against him. Do you expect him to do better with the MDC? If anything, it’s clear proof that Morgan Tsvangirai cannot trust the man who has tortured him and tried to wipe him off the face of the planet repeatedly.

Of course Zuma must not forget the fact that if the conduct I have described at length above is sanctioned and Mugabe remains in power, Africa’s image, already badly tarnished, will dip even further. It sends out the message that you can rig an election, murder and starve your countrymen, and the continent’s leaders will either ignore you or support you.

This goes right to the heart of Matthew Parris’ article on the recolonisation of Africa using gangster warlords — after all who would stop them?

Perhaps the greatest contrast between Madiba and Mugabe can be seen from this article by Mugabe’s one time friend and reporter Wilf Mbanga.

In it he describes how the Mugabe he knew became a monster that even he found hard to comprehend. It really makes for compelling reading. It clearly shows that this tyrant had an open path to becoming one of Africa’s greatest leaders and elected to change course.

Where Madiba truly believed in a non-racist, unified South Africa, Mugabe believes in whatever suits his own purposes — including murdering, torturing and robbing his countrymen.

That is why history will remember Nelson Mandela as one of the greatest men who ever lived and Robert Mugabe as Hitler-lite.


  • Madiba’s tears
  • Are South Africans really all capitalists at heart?
  • A commemoration of Nelson Mandela
  • Rhodes Fell