MDC treasurer David Coltart mourns President Mugabe, reveals two sides to late hero’s character


Tributes are being paid to former President Robert Mugabe who died aged 95 on Friday.

Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years before he was overthrown by the military in 2017, died in a hospital in Singapore after being admitted in April this year.

Movement for Democratic Change treasurer David Coltart served as Mugabe’s education minister during a power sharing government between 2009 and 2013.

In an interview with the BBC, Coltart said he remembered a man committed to the education of his people, but also one with a dark side.

Here is what he had to say:

“There is no doubt he was a colossus on the Zimbabwean stage. He is the person who brought the end of white minority rule. He also extended the education system in Zimbabwe, but of course there is a very negative legacy he leaves behind as well.

I don’t think he changed (from the earlier years), I think it’s more a case of him having two sides to his character. He had this public persona particularly at the beginning at independence that spoke about peace, but in reality even at the moment he said those words he was plotting against Joshua Nkomo and ZAPU. He met Kim Jong–il on the sidelines of (Josip Broz) Tito’s funeral in May 1980 and planned the destruction of ZAPU, so there was always two sides to him.

He was a brilliant man but a complex man. I had a chequered history with him. In my student days back in 1980, I thought he was a great man but was drawn into a conflict with him as a result of the crimes against humanity which were perpetrated in the 1980s and then of course when the MDC was set up in 1999 I came into conflict with him.

But ultimately in one sense we came full circle. When I became a minister of education in 2009, I realised another side to him. He was a man with a deep commitment to the education of Zimbabweans and Africans. By the end of my tenure, I had a functional relationship.

There were two sides to him, a complex man, a brilliant man, a man deeply committed to Zimbabwe and Africa, but with a very dark side as well.

Should Mugabe have been held to account, would Zimbabwe would have been able to come to terms with its contemporary history better if he had been?

Not just Mr Mugabe, I think the root of our problems actually lies at the Lancaster House Conference where neither Robert Mugabe nor Ian Smith were held to account (for wartime atrocities). I am afraid we have a deeply rooted legacy of violence in this country and you can’t just blame Robert Mugabe for that one, you also have to blame the intransigence of Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front in the 1960s and 1970s. Certainly Robert Mugabe perpetuated that culture of violence. It is now deeply rooted in our society and it is going to take probably another generation to rid the country of that legacy.”

– ZimLive

Breaking News via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to our website and receive notifications of Breaking News by email.