Current Affairs

Adios Mugabe

I think I'll remember him this way

Would “Adios Mugabe” be a pretty good name for a band, or possibly the lead singer of that band? Or both? Yes. Is it the headline of this post about the recent death of Zimbabwe’s former dictator, who I always found, for reasons I find hard to fully articulate, hilarious? Also yes. Does this have much to do with legal humor? Also—well, no, not really.

To be even more honest, this post will have very little to do with Robert Mugabe’s death, except to mention that it happened. It did, today (Friday). Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, initially as a hero of the struggle against white-minority rule but mostly as a dictatorial buffoon, was finally deposed in 2017 at the age of 93. He had previously claimed that “only God, who appointed me, will remove me” from office, but that turned out to be wrong.

God appointed him to his new position on Friday, though the specific means He used to do it remain, according to CNN, “closely guarded.”

It didn’t take too long for Mugabe to become a dictator. While things seem to have gone well at first following the end of the war in 1979, the downward spiral was well under way by the mid-1980s. I’m no expert on Zimbabwean history, of course, but I’m looking here at CNN’s phrase “mass graves that the victims reportedly had to dig themselves” and thinking that my conclusion on this is pretty solid.

Let us fast-forward now to 2013, by which time the descent of Mugabe and his government into farce was pretty much complete. I’m looking here at the fact that they appeared on this website that year and thinking that my conclusion on this is pretty solid, too. SeeZimbabwe: Would Whoever Has Our List of Registered Voters Please Contact Us?” (Aug. 2, 2013). Like many dictators, Mugabe pretended to have elections that he would pretend to have won by a healthy margin. In the 2013 election, the opposition (which technically existed) suggested there might possibly have been some irregularities involving the list of registered voters, which the ruling party said it would be happy to look into had someone not misplaced said list. The 2,000 binders in which said list was contained, to be specific. Well, what can one do.

The good news was that President Mugabe was still remarkably healthy even at his then-advanced age, at least according to assurances uttered by his spokespeople in 2015. Though 91 by that time, he never tripped and fell, for example; or if he did, he broke any such alleged fall in a very sprightly manner; or if he didn’t, it was the sort of fall that could not possibly have been avoided under the circumstances. See MUGABE SPOKESMAN: Even Jesus Would Have Tripped” (Feb. 6, 2015). So there was nothing to worry about on that score.

And the country’s economy was doing great, assuming one was not troubled by high inflation, and by “high” I mean a rate of 79 billion percent, which in all seriousness was the estimated rate of inflation there during November 2008. It got a little better after that, relatively speaking, but was still entirely farcical by 2016, when I noticed they were having to replace the currency yet again. See ALERT: Saturday is the Last Day to Cash in Your $100-Trillion Bills” (April 28, 2016).

But then came the coup, or the retirement, depending on who you believe. This took place not too long after further scurrilous rumors surfaced claiming that Mugabe was less energetic than he had once been, even though these rumors were quickly and decisively squashed. See MUGABE SPOKESMAN: The President Was Simply Resting His Eyes” (May 17, 2017). But perhaps the damage had been done.

Having done his damage, Robert Mugabe has now moved on.

With any luck, things will now improve for the people of Zimbabwe, who have been through a lot and deserve better. But then, he was their fault to begin with, I suppose. I mean, what kind of country allows a complete and utter buffoon to stay in power despite ever-mounting evidence of fraud, corruption, and incompetence? Ha! Nice one, Zimbabwe.