THE EDITOR, Sir:
When world leaders gather in South Africa for the funeral of Nelson Mandela, one notable African leader will no doubt be present - Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. A presumed freedom fighter himself, Mr Mugabe was no Mandela. Indeed, he can learn a lot from Mr Mandela.
Both men led military campaigns to end white rule in their countries. However, while Mr Mugabe attained victory long before Mr Mandela and is still in power in Zimbabwe, Mr Mandela created a much stronger South Africa and willingly gave up power after only one term in office. This is a very potent lesson for Mr Mugabe.
Mr Mugabe somehow got it into his head that blacks in Zimbabwe must be the 'true' owners of the country. As such, he implemented a very destructive and senseless programme of property repatriation - at the expense of the country's whites. Through this, Mr Mugabe transformed Zimbabwe from the region's breadbasket to a major food importer. He vanquished his country's best farmers and ruined Zimbabwe's economy.
NOT SO RASH
Mr Mandela, however, was not so rash. He realised that when power shifted to the black masses, he could not destroy South Africa with property repatriation at the expense of whites. Mr Mandela was no fool.
Though the lead anti-apartheid campaigner, he realised that certain aspects of the system that he fought could not be destroyed. In particular - apartheid science and technology could be useful. Mr Mandela knew that science and technology will work for any colour. Being a much more sensible visionary than Mr Mugabe, Mr Mandela built upon these and other positive aspects of the system that he detested.
When Mr Mugabe travels to South Africa for the funeral and sees the strong country that can be built when positive elements of old and new systems are built upon, let's hope that he will finally learn what true freedom fighters, like Mr Mandela, can achieve - when they think with their brains and not with their guts.
MICHAEL A. DINGWALL