HARARE: Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe has died, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday (Sep 6).
“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe,” tweeted the president.
Mugabe “was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people” he said.
It is believed he had been receiving treatment there since April.
Mugabe had led Zimbabwe in 1980 before being ousted from power after a military coup in 2017. After his humiliating fall from office in November 2017, his phenomenal physical stamina seeped away rapidly.
Nearly four decades after the country’s independence from Britain in 1980, he was regarded by many as Africa’s strongman
The 95-year-old had been receiving medical care in a Singapore hospital for an undisclosed ailment.
LIFE OF COMRADE BOB
Mr Mugabe, born 21 February 1924, was a communist and nationalist revolutionary.
In the 1970s he led a guerrilla campaign against the minority white government in what was then known as Rhodesia.
In 1979, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced that the UK would officially recognise Rhodesia’s independence if it moved to democratic majority rule.
Mugabe was elected Prime Minister the following year when his ZANU-PF secured 63 per cent of the national vote.
Mugabe abolished the Office of Prime Minister to appoint himself President of Zimbabwe in 1987.
First heralded as a liberator who rid the former British colony Rhodesia of white-minority rule, Robert Gabriel Mugabe will instead be remembered a despot who crushed political dissent and ruined the national economy.
The former political prisoner turned guerrilla leader swept to power in the 1980 elections after a growing insurgency and economic sanctions forced the Rhodesian government to the negotiating table.
In office, he initially won international plaudits for his declared policy of racial reconciliation and for extending improved education and health services to the black majority.
HIS BRIGHT FADED QUICKLY
Human rights groups had accused him of blatant abuses and overseeing a wave of anti-white discrimination and state corruption while the economy tanked.
Mugabe had taken control of one wing in the guerrilla war for independence — the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and its armed forces — after his release from prison in 1974.
His partner in the armed struggle — the leader of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), Joshua Nkomo — was one of the early casualties of Mugabe’s crackdown on dissent.
Nkomo was dismissed from government, where he held the home affairs portfolio, after the discovery of an arms cache in his Matabeleland province stronghold in 1982.
Mugabe, whose party drew most of its support from the ethnic Shona majority, then unleashed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade on Nkomo’s Ndebele people in a campaign known as Gukurahundi that killed an estimated 20,000 suspected dissidents.
Yet it was the violent seizure of white-owned farms nearly two decades later that would complete Mugabe’s transformation into an international pariah — though his status as a liberation hero still resonates strongly in most of Africa.