By Daphine Zulu

Great leaders are more than their persona; their brand should be a blend of tangible results, and talent development. If one is really good, they have been the ‘wind beneath the wings’ of emerging leaders who will rise up after them, ready and able to conquer the world.

Unfortunately, this was one of Cde Robert Mugabe’s greatest undoing,   his failure to acknowledge the mere fact that, as good as he was, it is mandatory for any great leader to groom and develop other leaders to see through his legacy and vision; plus knowing when to take a step back and allow others to shine.

Chronicling his 37 year service to the country, one certainly has a lot to appreciate, as much as there is a lot to despise. On the social front, President Mugabe is credited for revolutionalising the education sector, championing black and African empowerment (economically and socially), reinventing the agriculture sector through the land reform programme, women and youth empowerment, among other things.

Whilst this narrative may sound like an apologia for Cde Mugabe’s governance, well it is not, as it evidently had many shortfalls, ultimately leading to his demise, however in this utopia; lest the country forgets to also reckon the good he did.

On agriculture and land reform; from independence to 2000, a staggering 42% of Zimbabwe’s land mass was owned by 4 000 white commercial farmers, until his egalitarian land democratisation which saw over one million black Zimbabweans benefitting. Land previously owned by 4 000 white farmers now habitats 412 000 black families.

In 2008, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation even acknowledged that Zimbabwe had the fastest growing agriculture sector in the world largely supported by the tobacco sector which continues to grow each year. Only last year, maize output surpassed the country’s consumption requirements owing to Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme, racking in total grain production of over 2,5 million metric tonnes, while tobacco’s output earned the country at least USD $550 million.

On the educational front, Cde Mugabe regarded education as a potent tool for economic and social transformation to an extent that at independence in 1980, the government rolled out ‘Education for All’ policy which saw masses receiving primary education at government’s expense, to the majority of most Zimbabweans.

From there policies such as the ‘Education With Production’ came the introduction of more Vocational Training Colleges and recently the formation of the Ministry for  Liaising on Psychomotor Activities in Education and Vocational Training all in a bid to increase the country’s skills base.

Great strides have also been made in tertiary education where the number of state universities has increased from one in 1980 to 13 state universities, not to mention other private universities in the country (Solusi University, Africa University, Women’s University in Africa) with the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) being established to enhance access to tertiary education for those pursuing adult and long distance education.

In 1998, Cde Mugabe also set up the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training to investigate how education provision can be improved in Zimbabwe leading to commencement of the Presidential Scholarship Scheme (PSS) that has benefitted many disadvantaged young Zimbabweans, to go and learn at South African universities, China, Russia and Cuba.

Cde Mugabe also introduced the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), a facility that targets to offset costs for disadvantaged pupils, not to mention the recently introduced Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) intended to boost technoprenuership in the country.

Under youth empowerment, he gave birth to the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation Economic Empowerment and more than USD $40 million funds were secured and channeled to youths. The Zimbabwe Champions and Heroes of the Economic Empowerment Revolution (ZimCHEER) under the auspices of the ministry, and National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board and Zimbabwe Youth Council recorded to have created 93 692 jobs for youths from 39 385 youth entrepreneurs (between 15 to 35 years) countrywide.

On women affairs, the former president initiated the quota system which saw the entrance of women in the presidium (Joice Mujuru as Vice President), and in Zimbabwean politics as parliamentarians, all in an effort to ensure that a 50/50 gender parity ratio was achieved in order to emancipate and empower women.

The African Union (AU) still salutes him for championing black, African economic empowerment which saw him donating US$1 million to the AU Foundation as part of efforts to lessen the body’s dependence on foreign aid, a situation which has constantly led to African countries hero worshipping Westerners.

Therefore, the man did fight a good fight. We must cherish his legacy, for it is these positive gains that will continue inspiring Zimbabweans to continue beaming under the new stewardship.

Every good leader should however bear in mind that, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou. Leaders should therefore strive to leave lingering beautiful memories in the hearts of their subordinates, Adios Cde Mugabe!

 Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.