Only God could remove Robert Mugabe from office, according to Robert Mugabe. It should be evident to students of history by now, that this is not among the tasks that Our Lord assigns Himself. He may let a tyrant live to the age of ninety-five. God leaves men to do what men must do, which is part of the reason we must never expect justice, in this fallen world — where men who would remove tyrants are balanced by men who would secure them in power, having worshiped them as “liberators.” Monsters will rule so long as little monsters are willing to support them, in power but also in retrospect. Even they are limited by their own self-interests, however, and Mugabe was deposed by members of his own totalitarian ZANU party when it appeared that he had chosen his much younger wife Grace to succeed him. She promised to be worse than Mugabe. This was too hard for the senior party hacks to imagine.

Gratuitous violence, personal and autocratic rule, arbitrary seizures of farms and property, hyperinflation, and so forth, are the legacy of Mugabe’s decades in power, as Zimbabwe descended from relative prosperity, and some common law, to the basket case we observe today. It was woven out of Africa’s most prosperous and promising country.

A disaster from the start, Mugabe’s rule began with huge popularity, and public elation. British Colonialism had been overthrown — by decisions made at Lancaster House in London. When Mugabe’s own popularity declined, to the point where he could lose an election, something had to go. Can gentle reader guess what went?

But from the start of his regime and long before, Mugabe himself had been a man of violence, and implacable hatreds. Also of great charm, when there was something he could obtain in no other way; and populist charisma. He was in these respects the boilerplate of a revolutionary hero.

It is a sad story, made sadder when we realize that it will often be repeated. Nothing is learnt from great national misadventures. Histories are quickly forgotten. I notice for instance an entire field of presidential candidates in USA who are promising exactly the sort of policies that led, quite directly, to such tragedies as Zimbabwe, and Venezuela, and dozens more through the last century.

The dream of equality through redistribution of wealth, and the reparation of historical injustice, will always be attractive to the little man. While Joe Biden may merely be senile, candidates such as Sanders, Warren, Harris, O’Rourke, bid up the possibilities for disaster. (Whereas, Trump is the much lesser disaster we know.)

Mugabe died in a hospital in Singapore. He would have died more promptly had he trusted the best hospital in Harare — this man celebrated for advances in “education” and “health care” for the masses. One could spend years examining the horrors, the mountains of the unnecessarily dead, but would be no farther ahead by this exercise. People believe what they want to believe, and there will always be people to believe in a Mugabe.