Journalist Nathan talks of mixed emotions on the streets of Zimbabwe following the death of Robert Mugabe

Date 9.09.2019

University of Northampton Senior Journalism Lecturer, Nathan Dodzo, was a political journalist in Zimbabwe and interviewed the late president Robert Mugabe on several occasions.

Here, Nathan casts his eye over the reaction to Mugabe’s death – and you can also listen to him discussing the man on the radio, via the links at the bottom of this page. 

The late president Mugabe’s death is bound to divide the already divided nation. His opponents say that Zimbabwe’s current shambolic and depressive state is a direct result of his iron fistedness and approach, referring to him as a dictator. To some he was the only leader they knew, and the main cause of their suffering, poverty and economic problems, with a millions of people forced to live in exile in other countries. But others see him as a hero for standing up to the former British government, and as the man who took them out of colonial rule.

During his 37 year reign, the country went from being a bread basket for Sub-Saharan Africa with good health and education; to over the past 15 years, Zimbabweans facing shortages of basic commodities, high fuel prices, hyper-inflation, corruption and an economy that would take a generation to fix. It is difficult to predict exactly how history is going to judge him, but he will be remembered for all the wrong reasons by a large majority of disgruntled Zimbabweans out there. It would be hard for anyone to truly say how Zimbabwe is feeling right now, because there is a sense of “anger and polarisation amongst Zimbabwean people right now” in the words of one former reporter now living in exile.

One thing is for certain, the late former President Mugabe was passionate about “his Zimbabwe” and really found it difficult to relinquish power to anyone else. He was a very educated and calculated man, who always felt that he was doing right by his people. The late former President Mugabe was a very popular man amongst most Zimbabweans particularly over the first two decades of his reign, however, that popularity was rapidly fading towards the end.

In SADC, he was well respected by most of SADC leaders who probably saw him as their spokesperson and an icon of the liberation struggle, and the region. He never minced is words, and was well known for some well-writing, well-articulated, well-presented thought provoking speeches. Whether you liked him or not, you will surely remember him because he left a distinctive mark on world politics and governance.

You can listen to Nathan talking about Mugabe on BBC Radio Northampton.

He was also on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire Drive Time and the station’s Saturday Breakfast Show.