Today I attended the Amakula Kampala film festival. This was the very first film festival there ever was in Kampala and I have faithfully attended all their annual outings since their inaugural in 2004.
There was an intriguing film on the programme with an intriguing title and I thought... I should make time for this one. And I was no disappointed,
'Robert Mugabe...what happened?' was the title of the film by Robert Wright,a Zimbabwean film director. Boy! is that such a legitimate question indeed!
Robert Mugabe was considered an independence hero of Zimbabwe for leading a popular struggle for independence from Britain and subsequently against Ian Smith's white supremacist rule in the then Rhodesia. He was imprisoned for eleven years for his efforts and was only released at the height of natives struggle for self-governance with Zimbabwe gaining independence on 1980.
Robert Mugabe was supremely articulate,eloquent and spoke the finest queen's English and he duped many who accepted him as an exceptionally educated leader for Zimbabwe and this persona helped him eclipse other erstwhile contenders such as Joshua Nkomo from a rival ethnic group.
But the Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe's independence struggles wouldn't recognize today's Mugabe.
As his people lost confidence in his leadership, he resorted to desperate measures to keep on his grip on power which became an all- consuming occupation.
With the passage of time and failure to live up to the expectations of his people he lost his legitimacy to lead Zimbabwe and resorted to the most repulsive approaches imaginable to desperately keep state power including rigging elections,seizing white farms,fermenting tribal rivalries, tribal genocide,relying on the military for survival (and not his own people) and a shameless and naked drive to keep power at all costs including human lives.
Robert Mugabe is clearly past is sell-by date (he is shooting 90!)and watching him now gives one a strong impression that his mental faculties have suffered natural waste-the passage of time.
His Zanu-PF party doesnt have any more faith in his leadership but only see him as their assurance of a meal ticket and their continued partake of state largesse such as handouts of white farms to party extremists. In Morgan Tsvingrai's MDC (who actually won the last presidential polls) they have a formidable foe and Robert Mugabe is the only one who can guarantee that they will win an election even when they lose one.
Zimbabwe embodied lots of promise for Africa and could have been a success story if Mugabe hadn't screwed it all up.
To be fair, the question of land tenure justice was one borne out of the colonial history of Zimbabwe and the failure of Britain to come good on its promise to aid efforts for a fairer land re-distribution arrangement in Zimbabwe where black Zimbabweans had a fair stake in owning a piece of the arable land of their homeland is part of the problem of the tragedy of Zimbabwe.