People walk along a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, Oct. 26. Mugabe’s criminal megalomania sent thousands of his citizens to their graves and millions more into poverty. CNS photo/Aaron Ufumeli, EPA

Editorial: Good riddance, Mugabe

  • November 22, 2017
More than 100,000 people turned Zimbabwe’s capital Harare into a big dance party following the bloodless overthrow of their tyrant-president Robert Mugabe. Goodness knows they earned it.

Mugabe’s 37 years of thuggery, which ended Nov. 15 by military takeover, left more than 20,000 of his citizens dead. His country is in economic and political ruin. He rigged elections, had opponents killed, filled his personal bank accounts and ran a government rife with corruption.

All this from a man who, according to a priest who stood by Mugabe for four decades, is a Catholic who never travels without a rosary. That description brings to mind the words of Pope Francis, who once said a Christian cannot be a hypocrite and a hypocrite cannot be a Christian.

Mugabe, 93, is sometimes described as the anti-Nelson Mandela. Both men began as crusaders against social and racial injustice. Both enjoyed periods of international acclaim. But where a Mandela-led South Africa encouraged reconciliation, Mugabe promoted self interest and retribution.

Under Mugabe, one of Africa’s most prosperous nations became one of its poorest, and the human rights and democracy the nation achieved were cynically dismissed as Mugabe morphed into a ruthless tyrant.

So good riddance to him. The suffering people of Zimbabwe deserve better.

The peaceful overthrow of his violently corrupt regime is a dramatic reminder that the role of government, the very reason for its existence, is to serve the people. Canadians complain that our politicians too often let us down, but our issues are minor compared to the genuine hardship imposed on so many people by despots. Mugabe’s criminal megalomania sent thousands of his citizens to their graves and millions more into poverty.

Pope Francis, as he so often does, said it well when he called corruption “the termite of politics.” Corruption eats at the timbers of society and, if unchecked, can inflict grievous structural damage. That is Zimbabwe today — crumbling from rot.

Yet the faces of the laughing, dancing people who filled the streets to celebrate life without Mugabe reflect hope. Understandably so. But when the music stops, rebuilding the broken nation will be a formidable challenge.

What happens next is clearly up to the military. The generals seized power without a gunshot and have pledged to hand government back to the people. Their actions and words to date have been sweet music to the jubilant crowds. Now the generals must deliver.

The international community has an obligation to help make that happen. It must open hearts and wallets to invest in a broken economy, while offering support and, if necessary, pressure to bring about open and fair elections.

Zimbabwe survived one Mugabe. It should never have to endure another.

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