Ambuya Bona was right, Mugabe should have remained a teacher!

When we were growing up in the 1980s, we were told that soon after Robert Mugabe was sworn in as independent Zimbabwe's first Prime Minister in 1980, his mother, Ambuya Bona - when asked how she felt - is alleged to have said that she wished he had remained a teacher.

Mugabe_vaticanEvery time we heard that story we laughed, as we thought that Ambuya Bona could have said those things because she did not understand the role that her son had taken up.

Whether what we were told really happened or was just a tale, I still do not know.

However, if she did say those things, it is clear that Ambuya Bona was no fool and she knew what she was talking about.

She obviously knew what the position of Prime Minister meant – as she had lived through several of them in her long fruitful life.

Even today, the most elderly of rural dwellers knows who the President is, and that it is the highest office in the land.

So why, if she truly said those things, would the then Prime Minister’s mother wish that her son had remained a teacher?

Mothers know their children better than anyone else, and as such, Ambuya Bona knew Mugabe inside out.

She knew his weaknesses, and his strengths, his abilities, and his inabilities, and would know if he had the proper qualities to lead a nation.

Solely based on conjecture, it would seem that she knew that her son was not the right person to lead Zimbabwe, and would be better suited standing in front of a class.

This is clear from what the people of Zimbabwe have witnessed over the last three and a half decades of Mugabe’s rule.

He has presided over a decaying country, with an grossly mismanaged economy in a free-fall, unparalleled corruption, and oppression of disturbing magnitudes.

Everyone has his/her strengths and weaknesses, and these should be clearly defined before appointing or electing him/her to a specific position.

A study of Mugabe shows that he is a great intellectual and orator, as anyone who has heard him speak would agree with me.

Such wonderful skills are better suited for an academic, or in political circles, a publicity officer.

That is why during the formative years of the liberation movement in this country, he was usually elected to head the publicity department.

This shows that those that worked with him could clearly see that he was a very good orator and intellectual, and would be best suited in that department.

Similarly, such qualities would have made him one of the greatest academics this country would have ever seen.

I have no doubt that he would had made some outstanding strides in the field of research and lecturing.

However, even his colleagues realised very early in his political career that he did not possess any leadership qualities, and as such, never elected him to lead any of the liberation movements that were formed during that time – including ZANU.

In fact – without going into detail, as we have already touched on this in other articles – his rise to lead ZANU was characterised by highly divisive chicanery.

His subsequent leadership of both ZANU PF and Zimbabwe have clearly shown his lack of leadership abilities, as he has misruled both entities through instilling fear, surrounding himself with bootlickers, and the purging of any dissenting voices – a sign of a leader who knows his weaknesses and inabilities, and is afraid of being removed from office.

A leader who is confident in his/her abilities would never fear criticism and opposing voices, and would be prepared – and even cherish the opportunity – to face any rivals in truly free and fair elections.

Mugabe should have stuck to what he knows best – academia and oratory – which are perfect traits for a teacher.

Just because someone is a brilliant intellectual and talker – or even writer – does not automatically mean that they make a great leader.

In fact, some of the greatest leaders are not good at oratory at all.

Good leadership is about bringing together people and harnessing their various abilities for a common good.

Great leaders do not think themselves of being indispensable and the most knowledgeable, but are humble and know that everyone has something valuable to contribute.

They do not bring anyone down but uplifts everyone as special.

A great leader accepts criticism, and actually welcomes it, as that is where he/she gets wisdom.

He/she does not surround him/herself with bootlickers – who do not add any value – but surrounds him/herself with those that can stretch his/her abilities by correcting and criticising him/her.

In fact, he/she should be of a good temperament, and easily approachable, and does not build a fortification around himself – whereby even his/her own lieutenants find it hard to access him/her.

A great leader is wise enough to know that leadership renewal is the key to success, and is prepared to make way for fresh blood without waiting to be told to move aside.

A great leader confronts head-on any indiscipline, mismanagement and corruption, and does not look aside just because the culprits are political allies whom he/she needs for his/her own political survival.

He/she also confronts issues bedevilling his/her country head-on, without playing hide-and-seek, or hiding behind someone else.

A great leader takes full responsibility for anything that goes wrong in his/her country, and does not shift the blame on to others.

A great leader understands and empathises with the people’s suffering, and as such, suffers with them – and does not flaunt a lavish lifestyle in the midst of poverty.

These traits are obviously missing from Mugabe.

As the saying goes: mother always knows best – therefore, if the story about Ambuya Bona is true, she had already seen that her son would drive this country into the ground, and cause unbearable suffering on the people of Zimbabwe, and would have better served the nation had he remained a teacher.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist and commentator, writer, and journalist. He writes in his personal capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please feel free to call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or email: [email protected]com

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