POINT OF ORDER
TIM COHEN: Remember the undignified end of a hero
The ANC has a huge incentive to support the notion of ‘going with dignity’ and indulging in the art of forgetting too
There is a terrible tradition of African leaders going with dignity. Possibly the most egregious example was Ugandan military leader Idi Amin, who was responsible for perhaps 300,000 deaths and spent the final years of his life at the Novotel Hotel in Saudi Arabia. To take a more recent example, the same rules of departure were apparently applicable to Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who keeps his egregious wealth. The mechanics are simple. People are so relieved to see the back of a corrupt leader that they are prepared to trade a future of luxury for the tyrant in exchange for the possibility that his departure will create a better future. Perversely, it is often a sensible trade. But it does create a weird incentive for tyrants to become so awful that their populations will give anything to see them go.