Robert Mugabe, the powerful leader who was at the helm of Zimbabwe’s politics and ruled the country for three decades plus has died in Singapore at 95. The announcement was made by the country’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mugabe was ousted in 2017 in a coup. It was triggered by his decision to remove the then Vice President and present President Emmerson Mnangagwa and place his wife Grace in the post.
“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe,” tweeted Mnangagwa on Friday.
“Cde 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.”
His political career began on a high note as he was looked upon a savior by the people of Zimbabwe who were going through tumultuous times. However, his legacy was marked by sustained oppression as he made every effort to remain in power and at all costs.
He spent many years of his early political career in jail as he fought the white-minority rule as a guerilla leader. He worked at earning multiple educational degrees during this time. He became a leader of the political wing of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-PF). The resistance against white rule was planned and executed from Mozambique under his leadership. When the conflict ended, Mugabe emerged as an international figure.
Mugabe became the country’s first prime minister after the February 1980 elections. At that time, Zimbabwe had a great economy and many other positives such as a huge reserve of natural resources and well-developed infrastructure. However, the picture turned around soon as Mugabe ruled with an inflexible approach, targeting the land of white farmers. Murders of his political rivals and of those who opposed him became a regular feature of his tyrannical rule.
Mugabe and his wife led extremely lavish lifestyles. His birthday parties cost astronomical sums even as the country was economically tottering. Trevor Ncube a leading publisher said about Mugabe, “This is a man, who had so much to offer to Zimbabweans, but he didn’t, he focused on himself”
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