Robert Mugabe, the former leader of Zimbabwe forced to resign in 2017 after a 37-year rule whose early promise was eroded by economic turmoil, disputed elections and human rights violations,has died. He was 95.
“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe,” Mnangagwa posted on Twitter early on Friday.
“Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten.
“May his soul rest in eternal peace,” he added.
Mugabe was a hero of Zimbabwe’s independence struggle and became the country’s leader in 1978 before his decades-long rule descended into tyranny, corruption and incompetence. Though once widely celebrated for his role in fighting the white supremacist regime in his homeland, known as Rhodesia under colonial rule, Mugabe had long become a deeply divisive figure in his own country and across the continent. His final years in power were characterised by financial collapse, surges of violent intimidation and a power struggle pitting his wife Grace, 41 years younger, against Mnangagwa, his former right-hand man.
Zimbabwean Senator David Coltart, who was once labelled “an enemy of the state” by Mr Mugabe, said his legacy was marred by his adherence to violence as a political tool.”He was always committed to violence, going all the way back to the 1960s he was no Martin Luther King,” he told. “He never changed in that regard.”
In an interview with state-run television on his 93rd birthday, in February 2017, Mr Mugabe indicated that he would run again in presidential elections in 2018. In his final years in power, Mr Mugabe presided over a shattered economy and a fractured political class that was jockeying for influence in anticipation of his death. Though often viewed in the West as a pariah, he was, in many corners of Africa, considered an elder statesman thanks to his liberation pedigree, his longevity and his eloquence in articulating a broad resentment of Western powers’ past and present policies toward the continent.
Born on Feb. 21, 1924, on a Roman Catholic mission
near Harare, Mugabe was educated by Jesuit priests and worked as a primary school
teacher before going to South Africa’s University of Fort Hare, then a breeding
ground for African nationalism.
Returning to then-Rhodesia in 1960, he entered politics but was jailed for a decade four years later for opposing white rule.
When his infant son died of malaria in Ghana in 1966, Mugabe was denied parole to attend the funeral, a decision.
Mugabe was forced to resign in November 2017 after an army coup designed to prevent his unpopular wife Grace succeeding her husband, who planned to step aside due to his age and failing health.
The military feared the rise of the uncompromising Grace Mugabe to the presidency would ensure the opposition would win general elections and lead to curbs on their influence in politics and the economy.
Mugabe denounced his enforced resignation, which triggered wild celebrations across the country of 13 million, as an “unconstitutional and humiliating” act of betrayal by his party and people.
His departure failed to lift Zimbabwe’s economy, however, which remains in its worst economic crisis in a decade. Triple-digit inflation, rolling power cuts and shortages of U.S. dollars and basic goods have revived memories of the hyperinflation that forced it to ditch its currency in 2009.
Mugabe lacked the easy charisma of Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader and contemporary who became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after reconciling with its former white rulers. But he drew admirers in some quarters for taking a hard line with the West, and he could be disarming despite his sometimes harsh demeanor. “The gift of politicians is never to stop speaking until the people say, ‘Ah, we