Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe

The entire African continent woke up to a new dawn on Wednesday following the exit of one of the most controversial heads of state known to mankind. Today, there will hardly be anyone who will shed a tear or two for Robert Mugabe, who was so obsessed with power that he vowed to stay out for his entire lifetime. The chequered rule of Mugabe makes for a wonderful case study as he stormed to power as a liberator and bowed out unceremoniously as the country’s Enemy Number One.

There was growing clamour for his ouster from his own countrymen, who were subjected to humiliation by a ruler who gave a damn to his subjects and made their life miserable, day in and day out. It was a torture they survived for close to 37 years but he was unrepentant. The 93-year-old despotic dictator, who survived many an impeachment threat in the past three decades, will figure prominently in the Rogue’s Gallery, as many African experts have described him and his misrule.  However, irrespective of how and where history puts his rule, one cannot deny the fact that his sway was restricted to Zimbabwe and the neighbouring African nations.

In a way, his rule is more on the lines of the Ugandan strongman Idi Amin, who also defied world diktat and went about creating killing fields in his own country. However, unlike the nuke-obsessed North Korean leaders, they were never a threat to the world as such. One should not miss out on the other fact that during the notorious apartheid misadventure, the situation was as worse as it was when Mugabe and Idi Amin were wielding absolute power in their countries.

Today, the people of Zimbabwe have ‘discovered’ liberation as they have been freed from the shackles of a notorious individual. The way they thronged the streets and the wild celebrations in Harare are reminiscent of how each nation erupted in joy when they achieved independence from the British Raj. They should, meanwhile, be prepared to face the cruel hardships that lurk in the corner. This is precisely from where the other problems will surface. Even India did not enjoy a smooth ride post August 15, 1947. People were subjected to ordeals and harrowing times. The situation in Zimbabwe is slightly different in that they were not under any foreign rule, yet they have to brave up to a transition period.

If there is hope for a return to normalcy, one should also take into account that the country has been plunged into an inner crisis whereby uncertainty will be the order of the day. Mugabe succumbed to pressure from the army, which is likely to take control of the nation should a succession war erupt sooner or later and keep the nation on the boil. How the nation addresses and resolves this painful transition will be the biggest test for the ‘freed’ people of Zimbabwe, who will also hope that the days of global isolation would be a thing of the past. International support may come only when a credible alternative takes charge of Zimbabwe.