While it’s unlikely that many Zimbabweans yearn for former ruler Robert Mugabe’s return, the occasion of his 95th birthday toda has led some to see him in a softer light. “Comrade Bob” was toppled from 37 years in power in November 2017 following a brief military takeover that saw him replaced by his one-time protege, deputy and latterly, political rival President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“We miss Mugabe. If he didn’t care, at least he pretended to,” Harare resident Anita Mugombedzi told AFP. “If what we have seen so far is anything to judge by, Zimbabwe will be worse than it was under Mugabe at his worst.” In the months after Mnangagwa took power, it became clear the security services were prepared to use deadly force to put down dissent — just as they had done under Mugabe. “Mugabe made mistakes but he was not as ruthless as those who took over from him. We thought things would be better under Mnangagwa but now many people are saying Mugabe was better,” said Edmond Jera, an unemployed accountant.
Mugabe’s birthday will not be publicly celebrated this year, and it will simply be a national holiday like any other