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September 10, 2019

SAFTU statement on the passing of Robert Gabriel Mugabe

SAFTU sends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and comrades of the first President of Zimbabwe, comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe who passed away in a hospital in Singapore. President Mugabe has been in and out of the hospital in Singapore for several years now. His passing leaves a great sense of sorrow and sadness in particular to members of his family.

Only the enemies of freedom and democracy will deny the role that President Mugabe played in the liberation struggle of the people of Zimbabwe, South Africa and other parts of the region. Only a denialist will deny that the Mugabe government did exceedingly well in uplifting the lives of the people of his country, particularly in the first decade or two of his long rule. His legacy includes among many, a well-educated nation which until today is rated way above that of South Africa in terms of quality. That is why Zimbabweans can go anywhere, including here in South Africa and thrive. Healthcare was also one of his most significant legacies.  

Regrettably, not everyone will mourn the death of President Mugabe. The most unfortunate part is that this will include the people that used to sing praises for him and his party ZANU PF. Indeed, the families and victims of the Matabeleland massacre in which over 20 000 people were brutally killed by his army will not mourn his passing. So will the victims of his army and brutal police force that suppressed the voices of the opposition during the time of his disastrous misrule. This brutality continues this day under his then second in command Emmerson Mnangagwa who is the current President of Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe dying in a hospital in Singapore not in a Zimbabwe hospital epitomises the hypocrisy of African leaders who run down the public hospitals but receive the best treatment in foreign countries, ironically and scandalously at the expense of the very people who have no access to adequate and decent healthcare in their own countries.

Today most Zimbabwean workers have been forced to flee the country that was at the forefront of liberation struggle. Zimbabweans are the face of the economic squeeze that has led to a worker to fight a worker in the streets of South Africa as well as the humiliation everywhere else in the world. SAFTU has strongly condemned feelings of xenophobia and have urged workers of the continent to unite against the political elites and the system of capitalism that is responsible for their economic squeeze.

Unemployment, poverty and hunger are at unfathomable scales in Zimbabwe and here in South Africa. The electricity and currency crisis in Zimbabwe are just a few indications of how far things have spiralled down. The economic implosion in Zimbabwe is a result of Robert Mugabe’s adoption of the economic structural adjustment programme of the World Bank and IMF in the 90s.

Zimbabwe is one of the prime examples of a failed liberation, failed state and the betrayal of the masses by the few elites. This should serve as a lesson to the South African working class and indeed, workers all over the continent, that yesterday heroes are not necessary and always today’s heroes.

Rest in Peace President Robert Mugabe