Editor's noteOpinion

Lessons for Robert Mugabe

ZIMBABWEANS go to the polls today and president Robert Mugabe has said that unlike the election in 2008, he would surrender should he lose this time around.

If he succeeds in beating his nemesis, Morgan Tsvangirai to the presidency, the aging Southern Africa’s number one tyrant should take a leaf out of the book of top world leaders in what will be probably the last term of his long reign.

Not far from home, Mugabe has a role model in Nelson Mandela. Many freedom fighters became dictators with power, but not Madiba. South Africa’s former President successfully maintained his integrity and stature even after taking office.

Thirst for knowledge, resistance to conformity and embracing sacrifice were among the traits that made Mandela one of the greatest statesmen in history. Mugabe should take note of this.

After casting his ballot, Mugabe should kill time doing research on Frederick William de Klerk, elected President of South Africa on 6 September 1989.

The last of the National Party leaders, De Klerk called for a non-racist South Africa and for negotiations about the country’s future in just his first speech as President.

Five months later, he announced on worldwide television his dramatic decisions to release Mandela from prison and legalise the previously banned ANC and SA Communist Party.

Over the course of his presidency, he initiated and presided over the inclusive negotiations that led to the dismantling of apartheid and the adoption of South Africa’s first fully democratic constitution in December 1993. This led to the first fully-representative democratic election in South Africa.

Without violence, he surrendered the presidency to Mandela and did what many African leaders would never dream of by serving for two years as Deputy President.

While waiting for election results to the declared, Mugabe should read up on Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States who served from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865.

Lincoln led the United States through its greatest constitutional, military, and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, abolishing slavery, strengthening the national government and modernising the economy.

In William Jefferson ‘Bill’ Clinton, Mugabe has a lot to learn too. Clinton presided over the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history and signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement.

He passed welfare reform and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing health coverage for millions of children. The Congressional Budget Office reported a budget surplus between the years 1998 and 2000, the last three years of Clinton’s presidency.

Clinton left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any American president since World War II. Since then, he has been involved in public speaking and humanitarian work because he is respected worldwide.

In addition, Mugabe should remember ‘the difference between a boss and a leader; a boss says, Go. Leaders say Let’s go’.

Leadership is action, not position. And most important, you don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.

Related Articles

Back to top button