Mugabe: Adeyeye, Shonibare caution African leaders on sit-tight syndrome

Two eminent politicians, Senator Dayo Adeyeye and Chief Supo Shonibare have said political blunders committed by the late President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe at the twilight of political career should serve a major lesson to other African leaders.

Adeyeye and Shonibare spoke against the backdrop of the deceased’s decision to hold on to power from 1980 until he was eased out of office in 2017.

Mugabe, who was given a state burial on Saturday led the liberation struggle that secured independence for Zimbabwe from Britain in 1980.

Adeyeye said other African leaders should learn to leave the stage when the ovation is loudest as well as groom successors while in office.

Describing the late Zimbabwean president as belonging to the first set of legendary leaders on the African continent, the senator said Mugabe later derailed by becoming a sit-tight leader and ruined the economy of the southern African country.

In response to a question by the Tribune Online on how instructive the life of Mugabe was to other leaders, Senator Adeyeye stated: “Robert Mugabe was a freedom fighter who fought for the independence of his country from white minority rule.

“He belonged to the first generation of iconic African leaders like the late Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, and others. Unfortunately, as we so often encounter in the African political arena, he did not know when to quit the stage.

“The skills that are so effective in the liberation struggle are not necessarily useful in post-colonial political organisation and socio-economic management. Only Nelson Mandela seemed to have realised this fact.

“Mugabe stayed for too long, became stultified in his strategies and approach, eventually bringing his country to economic ruination. The hero subsequently became the villain.

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“The clear lesson is that African leaders must learn to quit the stage while the ovation is loudest. They must not see themselves as demi-gods who are indispensable but instead put effort into grooming leaders who can effectively pilot the affairs of state and take it to the next level.”

In the same vein, Shonibare said Mugabe failed to emulate Nelson Mandela, who relinquished power after serving a single term of five years as president of South Africa.

He said the deceased started off as an iconic liberation leader who a lot of people admired, as he was articulate and an exemplar in progressive policies he pursued to elevate the majority of Zimbabwe from abject poverty and several decades of deprivation.

“Unfortunately for us, this iconic leader fell into the trap of believing he was the only Zimbabwean able to lead his country and when a leader falls into that trap, that leader begins to use forces of coercion to sustain political power.

“He should have emulated Mandela, who having determined policies and a template and entrenched his organisation to implement the same, stepped aside. Although one will still acknowledge Mugabe’s legacy in the struggle to emancipate his people, unfortunately, the dictatorial approach to governance and his inability to deepen pluralism in his country has ensured instability both in the political and economic system of that country.

“African leaders must learn not to control political power indefinitely; which is why fixed term tenures are critical in the evolution of body politics in Africa. Many sit-tight leaders end up taken off the shine from whatever noble policies they may have started off with. It taints their tenure,” Shonibare stated.

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