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Africa remembers 'Zimbabwe's founding father' former president Robert Mugabe

by Staff reporter
06 Sep 2019 at 08:43hrs | Views
Former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95.

Mugabe had been receiving treatment in a hospital in Singapore since April. He was ousted in a military coup in 2017 after 37 years in power.

The former president was praised for broadening access to health and education for the black majority.

But later years were marked by the 'violent repression' of his political opponents and Zimbabwe's economic ruin.

He took away land from the minority whites which made the Western countries to impose ruinous sanctions on Zimbabwe.
  • OPINION: Rest in peace, Robert Mugabe: Hero, villain, human

    06 Sep 2019 at 12:57hrs

    Robert Mugabe has died.

    May he rest in peace.

    He was one of the engineers who built the foundations of modern-day Zimbabwe. If you ever get the chance, please visit Zimbabwe. It is home to music and fields of maize for as far as the eye can see. There are parks in the middle of the capital.

    The women and men are lovely underneath that veneer of British manners that they have been cursed with. They are stern, yet kind.If you love contradictions, you have to go there. And if you want to know what patience looks like, well, you have to go there. It doesn't matter, you just have to go there.

    Pretend to be a researcher into the post-colonial experience of racial politics or whatever excuse you need to justify your pilgrimage. Just go.You may awake in the morning to people singing outside your hotel room, singing hymns to the Lord at the very break of dawn as they tend to the land, open up the office, give praise for another day.

    As beautiful as an adhan to my coastal ear.It is ridiculously bucolic up in there, everywhere nature is pushing up an offering. Would you like some greens? A homegrown tomato, perhaps?

    We all garden out of necessity in our African cities, but still, these people have some skills. Few sights in the world are as gorgeous as a fine full-fatted and long-horned Ankole...yet some of the cattle I saw in Zimbabwe made me glance at them.

    Just a bit, I didn't stare too hard, that would have been disrespectful. This is the country that Mugabe helped build. This is the country Mugabe helped destroy.

    If you try to talk to Zimbabweans, they will not tell you anything of import until you are ready to really listen. There is a shield of politeness, a grim determination that is necessary to the everyday work of being dependable and productive and willing to survive. It is necessary to keep the pain of unfairness from crushing one's soul.

    Stoicism, God, hard work, few words, and political correctness. Maybe even in that order.Do you want to know about Zimbabwe? Let me tell you a story: The guy who drove me from the hotel to the airport in Johannesburg said he was completely floored by Zimbabweans' work ethic.

    That's why they help him run his establishment. This was in South Africa. South Africa could learn so much from Zimbabwe. We all could.

    This is the country that Mugabe helped build. This is the country he helped destroy.

    What my gracious South African host (and no, he wasn't "white" so don't even try trolling) doesn't know is that I managed to charm his breakfast cook into talking to me a bit before he came along. She has kids. She is grateful for the work.

    She covers her mouth when she laughs. Her family is back home and they need the remittances. She kept me company of a cold morning and would have sat down to a cup of tea if she wasn't being so...professional.

    I asked a friend to help me figure this article out. I said: "Friend, what can a person of my generation actually say about Robert Mugabe?"

    And my friend said: "Robert Mugabe built a foundation for a country. Meditate on that."

    I cannot join the throngs who fear to speak ill of the dead. I cannot immortalise him with scant regard for the villainy that he brought into this world. No. I will respect his legacy by talking about him as though he was a man, a neighbour, and someone who never did quite understand what to do with all that success.

    Let us honour him for having been thoroughly, demonstrably human. Nobody knows what to do with that much success.

    Therein lies our lesson.We all want our heroes to be flawless, and our villains to lack good qualities. It makes the world so much simpler. But have you ever visited a country that has stoically refused to give in, year after year, without a functioning currency?

    People who must barter for milk while taking care of their grandmothers, and still manage to smile at us stupid strangers who reduce their story to a failure of economic policy and the encounter of black and white? People who are strong. Not stupid-strong like: I want to spear everything. No. Real-strong, like: We are going to survive this and do our best - whatever may come - and still have heart.

    This is the country that Mugabe helped build. The same one he helped destroy.Robert Mugabe was part of the liberation of a country that subsequently had to survive him as best it could. Yes, it is paradoxical.

    When he was good, he was good and when he was bad, he really messed up. But does that break the foundation that he helped to build for Zimbabwe?

    If you can't be the teacher, be the lesson. This is the year of autocratic populism, so let me do my job as a griot and try to sing us all to a better place.

    Robert Mugabe was a complex and complicated man, for whom many of us would have wished a better end, but we saw this coming. We participated in his demise, though, didn't we? Nobody survives that much "success", which is why term limits were invented.

    Let us learn not to break our leaders by making them kings for life. Let us appreciate what foundations they have built and, on those foundations, build better governments, more inclusive societies.

    Let us save our sons - and daughters, but mostly sons - from the ravages of egomania.Let us try to forgive them their sins.And let him rest, in peace. You did what you did, Uncle Bob. It was quite the life.Farewell.

    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 12:52hrs

  • Vladimir Putin hails Mugabe's role in Zimbabwe's independence as 'great contribution'

    06 Sep 2019 at 12:52hrs

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday hailed Robert Mugabe's "great personal contribution" to Zimbabwe's independence.

    "Many important dates in Zimbabwe's modern history are tied to the name of Robert Mugabe. He made a great personal contribution to the battle for your country's independence, to the building of Zimbabwean state institutions," Putin said.

    He also was a proponent of "friendly relations" with Russia, Putin added

  • Mugabe's decision to invest in education helped his people - UDM's Bantu Holomisa

    06 Sep 2019 at 12:52hrs

    Robert Mugabe's decision to invest in his country's education while he was the president of Zimbabwe helped the nation even after the collapse of its economy, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said on Friday.

    Sending his condolences to the people of Zimbabwe, as well as the Mugabe family, Holomisa said it was a pity that the project of former president Nelson Mandela and Mugabe, to liberate their people from poverty, wasn't successful.

  • Zimbabweans 'suffered for too long' under Mugabe: UK

    06 Sep 2019 at 12:51hrs

    Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler Britain on Friday said Zimbabweans had "suffered for too long" under former president Robert Mugabe, reacting to news of his death.

    "We express our condolences to those who mourn Robert Mugabe's death. However, Zimbabweans suffered for too long as a result of Mugabe's autocratic role," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

    - AFP

  • Mugabe 'will always be remembered by posterity'

    06 Sep 2019 at 12:40hrs

    Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has paid tribute to Zimbabwe's former leader Robert Mugabe, describing him as "a man who lived most of his life in public service".

    He also hailed Mr Mugabe's role in Zimbabwe's independence struggle.

    "President Buhari believes Mugabe's sacrifices, especially in struggling for the political and economic emancipation of his people, will always be remembered by posterity," a statement from his office said.

  • Zimbabwe will one day shine again as the Jewel of Africa

    06 Sep 2019 at 12:39hrs

    Issued by Solly Malatsi - DA National Spokesperson

    The Democratic Alliance (DA) has noted reports confirming the passing of former Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe. He will be remembered for his conflicting legacy as a liberator towards independence and an oppressor of the democratic values he once fought for.

    President Mugabe oversaw the rise of Zimbabwe as an independent and prosperous Republic but he also oversaw the decline of Zimbabwe into a tyrannical dictatorship which violently repressed opposition and brutalized civilians.

    Zimbabwe and her people have suffered a great deal because of this decline.

    The repressive regime that President Mugabe left behind is now being put to good use by his erstwhile proteges to continue denying Zimbabweans their fundamental human rights.

    It is the Democratic Alliance's (DA) hope that Zimbabwe will one day shine again as the Jewel of this continent and that her people will finally be governed by fair democratic principles, which enshrine the protection of human rights, including the right to freedom of speech and expression, without fear of coercive violence at the hands of those in power.

    We convey our condolences to President Robert Mugabe's family and loved ones.

    May there one day be Unity, Freedom and Work for the people of Zimbabwe.

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 11:52hrs

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 11:51hrs

  • Kenya declares Mugabe an African hero, flags to fly at half-mast

    06 Sep 2019 at 11:49hrs

    Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta orders flying of national flag half-mast on Saturday and Monday in honour of Robert Mugabe; declares him an African hero.

    Kenyatta paid tribute to Robert Mugabe, saying the 95-year-old had been "an elder statesman, a freedom fighter and a pan-Africanist who played a major role in shaping the interests of the African continent".

    "We will remember former President Mugabe as a man of courage who was never afraid to fight for what he believed in even when it was not popular," Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement.

    His Tanzanian counterpart, John Magufuli, shared similar sentiments, tweeting in Swahili: "Africa has lost one of its courageous leaders, who resisted colonisation through actions."

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 11:40hrs

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 11:40hrs

  • 'A hero to oppressed people internationally,' says Chinamasa

    06 Sep 2019 at 11:37hrs

    Tributes have been paid to former President Robert Mugabe who died aged 95 on Friday.

    Former Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa spoke to the BBC about Mugabe's legacy, describing him as an "international giant".

    Here is what Chinamasa had to say:

    "I remember him as an African and international giant, an icon who dedicated his life to the liberation of not just Zimbabweans but to all oppressed people internationally.

    He left a huge legacy, not just to Zimbabwe but to the continent. In Zimbabwe his legacy was empowering black people in education and in encouraging to take over control of their resources in the country.

    He is one of the first leaders to resolutely address the colonial question of land occupation. As a result Zimbabweans now are free, they now have control of their land, they now have control of their resources. He was a revolutionary, par excellence, and he contributed immensely to our liberation, to our economic emancipation, to our education. As you know, Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa. Zimbabweans are most empowered in skills and education and they are all over the world thanks to the legacy that our revolutionary leader Cde Mugabe has left us and I'm very saddened that he has passed on.

    There are no mixed feelings (about Mugabe's legacy after the economic collapse witnessed in the twilight of his rule). As you know, Zimbabweans took over their land following the British government under Tony Blair reneging on the commitment they made at Lancaster House in 1979 to make resources available to pay compensation to white farmers. The British reneged, so it was like back to the armed struggle in order to recover to our land. We have no regrets. The land question has been resolved irreversibly.

    The ecconomic decline has been caused by sanctions imposed by the UK, by America, by Europe, by white Commonwealth countries in order to stifle, in order to undermine our independence. That is what has caused the economic decline.

    But the resolution of the land question remains irreversible. Zimbabweans are now very much empowered compared to elsewhere in post-colonial Africa. We are most empowered and we have no regrets.

    In the context of the circumstances of the time, we have been a very democratic nation. We never skipped any election. Every year elections were due, elections were held and we won the elections. What complicated our democracy was the financing or creation of an opposition by the Westminster Foundation in 1998 by the Blair government. They created an opposition funded externally to oppose the land issue and to continue their destabilisation of our country. That is what has disturbed the normal evolution of our democracy, otherwise we have been very much on the course to democracy.

    A lot of people don't understand the events of November 2017. It was not against Mugabe. Because President Mugabe was now advanced in age, he was 93, he was losing control of power to his young wife, and the clique which surrounded the young wife. That destabilised the normal operations of both the party (Zanu PF) and the government. That is what the events of 2017 did. It was basically to bring order and stability which had been threatened by the young wife and the clique who had surrounded him and taking advantage of his advanced age. It was not an anti-Mugabe move per se that was taken in November 2017 but an anti-young wife and the clique that surrounded him which was threatening to destabilise the political and economic status of our country."

  • Jabulani Sibanda praises Mugabe's liberation credentials

    06 Sep 2019 at 11:23hrs

    Jabulani Sibanda, the former leader of the War Veterans' Association which has been associated with past election violence in Zimbabwe, said the country had lost its liberator.

    "It is very sad that we have lost a former president. We have lost a hero who stood up for the liberation of [Zimbabwe] and the oppressed people of the world," he told the BBC's Newsday programme.

    "Yes, there are things that I disagree with him over. But at the same time we can explain each [individual] issue as it comes. We have lost somebody who stood up against the colonisation of our country," he continued.

    "He was a fearless man. He stood up against [former UK Prime Minister] Tony Blair and [former US President] George W Bush over the issue of the Iraq war.

    "There are things that he did wrong in this country. But we have lost a liberator."

  • Malema mourns 'martyr of the African revolution'

    06 Sep 2019 at 11:21hrs

    South African's firebrand opposition leader Julius Malema says it is important to fight and protect Robert Mugabe's legacy.

    "I'm saddened by the passing of our martyr and giant of the African revolution," he tweeted.

    Mr Malema, who leads the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party - South Africa's second-largest opposition party, has long been an admirer of Mugabe.

    He used rhetoric similar to Mugabe after the killings in 2012 at the Marikana mine, where he stepped up his long-standing calls for mines to be nationalised.

    And in the past he has praised Zimbabwe's controversial seizure of white-owned land.

  • Mugabe resurrection meme goes viral

    06 Sep 2019 at 11:15hrs

  • Mugabe's son tweets emojis of sorrow

    06 Sep 2019 at 11:05hrs

    Robert Mugabe’s youngest child, Chatunga, had no words to express his loss at his father’s death.

    The youngest son of the former Zimbabwean leader tweeted four emojis of a crying face.

    Hundreds of people have replied to the tweet, mainly passing on their condolences.

    Mr Mugabe had four children altogether. His first son, Nhamodzenyika, died of malaria at the age of three in Ghana in 1966.

    At the time Mr Mugabe was a prisoner of the white-minority Rhodesian government, which refused him permission to join his first wife Sally in Accra for the funeral.

    With his second wife Grace Marufu, his former secretary, he had three children: Bona, Robert and Chatunga, who was born a year after the couple married when Mr Mugabe was 73 years old.

  • The liberator who helped ruin the land he loved

    06 Sep 2019 at 11:04hrs

    He died far from home. Bitter, lonely and humiliated. An epic life, with the shabbiest of endings.

    Robert Mugabe embodied Africa’s struggle against colonialism – in all its fury and its failings.

    He was a courageous politician, imprisoned for daring to defy white-minority rule.

    The country he finally led to independence was one of the continent’s most promising, and for years Zimbabwe more or less flourished under President Mugabe.

    But when the economy faltered, Mugabe lost his nerve. He implemented a catastrophic land reform programme. Zimbabwe quickly slid into hyperinflation, isolation and political chaos.

    The security forces kept Mugabe and his party, Zanu-PF, in power - mostly through terror.

    But eventually even the army turned against him, and pushed him out.

    Few nations have ever been so bound, so shackled, to one man.

    For decades, Mugabe was Zimbabwe. A ruthless, bitter, sometimes charming man – who helped ruin the land he loved.

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 10:50hrs

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 10:49hrs

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 10:47hrs

  • EFF Statement on The Passing of President Robert Mugabe

    06 Sep 2019 at 10:21hrs

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 10:20hrs

  • 'Chamisa recognise Mugabe's contribution'

    06 Sep 2019 at 10:17hrs

    Zimbabwe's main opposition leader has said that even though he and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had great political differences with Robert Mugabe, now was a time for mourning.

    "We recognise his contribution made during his lifetime as a nation's founding president," Nelson Chamisa said in a series of tweets.

    He sent his condolences to the Mugabes "and Africa" and said it was a dark moment for the family "because a giant among them has fallen".

    Referring to the Africa concept of togetherness, he said: "There's so much to say for a life of 95 years and national leadership spanning over 37 years but in the true spirit of Ubuntu, we would like to give this moment to mourning but there will be time for greater reflection."

  • Mugabe 'a true monster' says ex-Lancaster House negotiator

    06 Sep 2019 at 10:04hrs

    George Walden, one of the British negotiators at the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979, which set up a constitution for Zimbabwe at the end of white-minority rule, said he had seen Mr Mugabe in his "better days" but in the end, he was and is a "true monster".

    He told the BBC's Today programme: “The first thing to be said is that one mustn’t speak ill of the dead, except when they killed as many people as Mugabe [did]."

    Mr Walden said Mr Mugabe's subscription to Maoism, the Chinese communist ideology, rang alarm bells for him, but the Lancaster House negotiations "turned out rather well... and looked good for a while".

    But Mr Mugabe later became "a grossly corrupt, vicious dictator", he said.

    "There was a willingness to kill and murder, and despite our own own mishandling of the situation and above all the mishandling by Ian Smith [Rhodesia's former PM], I still feel that [Mugabe] is a true monster in the end."

  • Robert Mugabe - key dates

    06 Sep 2019 at 10:03hrs

    1924: Born. Later trains as a teacher

    1964: Imprisoned by Rhodesian government

    1980: Wins post-independence elections

    1996: Marries Grace Marufu

    2000: Loses referendum, pro-Mugabe militias invade white-owned farms and attack opposition supporters

    2008: Comes second in first round of elections to Tsvangirai who pulls out of run-off amid nationwide attacks on his supporters

    2009: Amid economic collapse, swears in Tsvangirai as prime minister, who serves in uneasy government of national unity for four years

    2017: Sacks long-time ally Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, paving the way for his wife Grace to succeed him

    November 2017: Army intervenes and forces him to step down

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 10:01hrs

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  • 06 Sep 2019 at 09:57hrs

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  • 06 Sep 2019 at 09:56hrs

  • Obituary: Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's first post-independence leader

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:55hrs

    As independent Zimbabwe's first prime minister, and later its president, Robert Mugabe promised democracy and reconciliation.

    But the hope that accompanied independence in 1980 dissolved into violence, corruption and economic disaster.

    President Mugabe became an outspoken critic of the West, most notably the United Kingdom, the former colonial power, which he denounced as an "enemy country".

    Despite his brutal treatment of political opponents, and his economic mismanagement of a once prosperous country, he continued to attract the support of other African leaders who saw him as a hero of the fight against colonial rule.

    Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born in what was then Rhodesia on 21 February 1924, the son of a carpenter and one of the majority Shona-speaking people in a country then run by the white minority. Educated at Roman Catholic mission schools, he qualified as a teacher.

    Winning a scholarship to Fort Hare University in South Africa, he took the first of his seven academic degrees before teaching in Ghana, where he was greatly influenced by the pan-Africanist ideas of Ghana's post-independence leader Kwame Nkrumah. His first wife Sally was Ghanaian.

    In 1960, Mugabe returned to Rhodesia. At first he worked for the African nationalist cause with Joshua Nkomo, before breaking away to become a founder member of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu).

    In 1964, after making a speech in which he called Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith and his government "cowboys", Mugabe was arrested and detained without trial for a decade.

    His baby son died while he was still in prison and he was refused permission to attend the funeral.

    In 1973, while still in detention, he was chosen as president of Zanu. After his release, he went to Mozambique and directed guerrilla raids into Rhodesia. His Zanu organisation formed a loose alliance with Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (Zapu).

    During the tortuous negotiations on independence for Rhodesia, he was seen as the most militant of the black leaders, and the most uncompromising in his demands.

    On a 1976 visit to London, he declared that the only solution to the Rhodesian problem would come out of the barrel of a gun.


    But his negotiating skills earned him the respect of many of his former critics. The press hailed him as "the thinking man's guerrilla".

    The Lancaster House agreement of 1979 set up a constitution for the new Republic of Zimbabwe, as Rhodesia was to be called, and set February 1980 for the first elections which would be open to the black majority.

    Fighting the election on a separate platform from Nkomo, Mugabe scored an overwhelming and, to most outside observers, unexpected victory. Zanu secured a comfortable majority, although the polls were marred by accusations of vote-rigging and intimidation from both sides

    A self-confessed Marxist, Mugabe's victory initially had many white people packing their bags ready to leave Rhodesia, while his supporters danced in the streets.

    However, the moderate, conciliatory tone of his early statements reassured many of his opponents. He promised a broad-based government, with no victimisation and no nationalisation of private property. His theme, he told them, would be reconciliation.

    Later that year he outlined his economic policy, which mixed private enterprise with public investment.

    He launched a programme to massively expand access to healthcare and education for black Zimbabweans, who had been marginalised under white-minority rule.

    With the prime minister frequently advocating one-party rule, the rift between Mugabe and Nkomo widened.

    After the discovery of a huge cache of arms at Zapu-owned properties, Nkomo, recently demoted in a cabinet reshuffle, was dismissed from government.

    While paying lip service to democracy, Mugabe gradually stifled political opposition. The mid-1980s saw the massacre of thousands of ethnic Ndebeles seen as Nkomo's supporters in his home region of Matabeleland.


    Mugabe was implicated in the killings, committed by the Zimbabwean army's North Korean-trained 5th Brigade, but never brought to trial.

    Under intense pressure, Nkomo agreed for his Zapu to be merged with - or taken over by - Zanu to become the virtually unchallenged Zanu-PF.

    After abolishing the office of prime minister, Mugabe became president in 1987 and was elected for a third term in 1996.

    The same year, he married Grace Marufu, after his first wife had died from cancer. Mugabe already had two children with Grace, 40 years his junior. A third was born when the president was 73.

    He did have some success in building a non-racial society, but in 1992 introduced the Land Acquisition Act, permitting the confiscation of land without appeal.

    The plan was to redistribute land at the expense of more than 4,500 white farmers, who still owned the bulk of the country's best land.

    In early 2000, with his presidency under serious threat from the newly formed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by former trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe lashed out against the farmers, seen as MDC backers.

    His supporters, the so-called "war veterans", occupied white-owned farms and a number of farmers and their black workers were killed.

    Foreign aid

    The action served to undermine the already battered economy as Zimbabwe's once valuable agricultural industry fell into ruin. Mugabe's critics accused him of distributing farms to his cronies, rather than the intended rural poor.

    Zimbabwe moved rapidly from being one of Africa's biggest food producers to having to rely on foreign aid to feed its population.

    In the 2000 elections for the House of Assembly, the MDC won 57 out of the 120 seats elected by popular vote, although a further 20 seats were filled by Mugabe's nominees, securing Zanu-PF's hold on power.

    Two years later, in the presidential elections, Mugabe achieved 56.2% of the vote compared with Mr Tsvangirai's 41.9% against a background of intimidation of MDC supporters. Large numbers of people in rural areas were prevented from voting by the closure of polling stations.

    With the MDC, the US, UK and the European Union not recognising the election result because of the violence and allegations of fraud, Mugabe - and Zimbabwe - became increasingly isolated.

    The Commonwealth also suspended Zimbabwe from participating in its meetings until it improved its record as a democracy.

    In May 2005, Mugabe presided over Operation Restore Order, a crackdown on the black market and what was said to be "general lawlessness".

    Some 30,000 street vendors were arrested and whole shanty towns demolished, eventually leaving an estimated 700,000 Zimbabweans homeless.


    In March 2008, Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential elections but won the run-off in June after Mr Tsvangirai pulled out.

    In the wake of sustained attacks against his supporters across the country, Mr Tsvangirai maintained that a free and fair election was not possible.

    Zimbabwe's economic decline accelerated, with inflation rates reaching stratospheric levels.

    After hundreds of people died from cholera, partly because the government could not afford to import water treatment chemicals, Mugabe agreed to negotiate with his long-time rival about sharing power.

    After months of talks, in February 2009 Mugabe swore in Mr Tsvangirai as prime minister.

    It came as no surprise that the arrangement was far from perfect, with constant squabbling and accusations by some human rights organisations that Mugabe's political opponents were still being detained and tortured.

    Mr Tsvangirai's reputation also suffered by his association with the Mugabe regime, despite the fact that he had no influence over the increasingly irascible president.

    The 2013 election, in which Mugabe won 61% of the vote, ended the power-sharing agreement and Mr Tsvangirai went into the political wilderness.

    While there were the usual accusations of electoral fraud - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked that these be investigated - there was not the widespread violence that had marked previous polls in Zimbabwe.


    It was an election that saw Robert Mugabe, at the age of 89, confirm his position as the undisputed power in the country.

    His advancing years, and increasing health problems, saw much speculation as to who might replace him.

    But the manoeuvring among possible successors revealed how fragmented Zimbabwe's administration was and underlined the fact that it was only held together by Mugabe's dominance.

    Mugabe himself seemed to delight in playing off his subordinates against each other in a deliberate attempt to dilute whatever opposition might arise.

    With speculation that his wife, Grace, was poised to take control in the event of his death in office, Mugabe announced in 2015 that he fully intended to fight the 2018 elections, by which time he would be 94.

    And, to allay any doubt remaining among possible successors, he announced in February 2016 that he would remain in power "until God says 'come'".

    In the event it wasn't God but units of the Zimbabwe National Army which came for Robert Mugabe. On 15 November 2017 he was placed under house arrest and, four days later, replaced as the leader of Zanu-PF by his former vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

    Defiant to the end Mugabe refused to resign, But, on 21 November, as a motion to impeach him was being debated in the Zimbabwean parliament, the speaker of the House of Assembly announced that Robert Mugabe had finally resigned.

    Mugabe negotiated a deal which protected him and his family from the risk of future prosecution and enabled him to retain his various business interests. He was also granted a house, servants, vehicles and full diplomatic status.

    Ascetic in manner, Robert Mugabe dressed conservatively and drank no alcohol. He viewed both friend and foe with a scepticism verging on the paranoid.

    The man who had been hailed as the hero of Africa's struggle to throw off colonialism had turned into a tyrant, trampling over human rights and turning a once prosperous country into an economic basket case.

    His legacy is likely to haunt Zimbabwe for years.

  • Malema mourns Mugabe

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:52hrs

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 09:49hrs

  • Level headed Coltart on Mugabe's death

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:48hrs

  • Mugabe timeline

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:46hrs

    21 February 1924: Born

    1964: Jailed after being convicted of sedition

    1973: Becomes Zanu leader

    1980: Becomes prime minister of Zimbabwe

    1987: Becomes president under new constitution agreed under deal to end Matabeleland massacres

    1992: Wife Sally dies

    1996: Marries Grace Marufu

    2000: Loses referendum, land invasions begin

    2002: Wins presidential election amid widespread violence and fraud allegations

    2005: Launches Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Rubbish), which forces 700,000 urban residents from their homes - seen as punishment for opposition supporters

    2008: Comes second in election, violence leads his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from run-off

    2009: Forms coalition government

    2013: Resoundingly re-elected, Tsvangirai returns to opposition

    2017: Forced to resign after army seizes power

    6 September 2019: Dies in Singapore, which he visits for hospital treatment

  • Four faces of Mugabe

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:45hrs

    Before independence:

    "He was a very nice guy. At that stage, he was not too sure of himself. There were very strong people in Zanu who were not afraid to oppose him. He would never take a decision on his own" - Dumiso Dabengwa


    "He did everything he could to improve the lives of his people. He wanted education for all. He wanted health for all. He introduced a leadership code limiting Zanu-PF cadres to 50 acres of land" - Wilf Mbanga


    "I worked very harmoniously with him and discussed issues. He would let me have my way or we would reach a compromise" - Dumiso Dabengwa

    2000 - 2017:

    "After 2000, he started flexing his muscles. He brought in people who he could influence. Several people were compromised - he held something over them" - Dumiso Dabengwa.

    "He has become fabulously wealthy. He is not the person I knew. He changed the moment Sally died [in 1992], when he married a young gold-digger [Grace Mugabe]" - Wilf Mbanga

  • From liberator to tyrant

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:45hrs

    Robert Gabriel Mugabe was a man who divided global public opinion like few others.

    To some, he was an evil dictator who should have ended his days in jail for crimes against humanity.

    To others, he was a revolutionary hero, who fought racial oppression and stood up to Western imperialism and neo-colonialism.

    On his own terms, he was an undoubted success.

    First, he delivered independence for Zimbabwe after decades of white-minority rule.

    He then remained in power for 37 years - outlasting his greatest enemies and rivals such as Tony Blair, George W Bush, Joshua Nkomo, Morgan Tsvangirai and Nelson Mandela.

    And he destroyed the economic power of Zimbabwe's white community, which was based on their hold over the country's most fertile land.

    However, his compatriots - except for a small, well-connected elite - paid the price, with the destruction of what had once been one of Africa's most diversified economies.

    In the end, this came back to haunt him.

    The outpouring of joy on the streets of Harare which greeted his forced resignation in November 2017 echoed the jubilation in the same city 37 years earlier when it was announced he was the new leader of independent Zimbabwe.

    Although he was allowed to see out his days in peace in his Harare mansion, it was not the end he wanted, having famously boasted: "Only God, who appointed me, will remove me."

    Many Zimbabweans trace the reversal of his - and their - fortunes to his 1996 wedding to his secretary Grace Marufu, 41 years his junior, following the death of his widely respected first wife, Sally, in 1992.

    "He changed the moment Sally died, when he married a young gold-digger," according to Wilf Mbanga, editor of The Zimbabwean newspaper, who used to be close personal friends with Mr Mugabe.

    That sentiment was common long before anyone dreamed she might one day harbour presidential ambitions, which were the trigger for his close allies in the military and the ruling Zanu-PF party to oust Mr Mugabe from power.

    Mugabe the man

    While he was sometimes portrayed as a madman, this was far from the truth. He was extremely intelligent and those who underestimated him usually discovered this to their cost.

    Stephen Chan, a professor at London's School of Oriental and African Studies, noted Mr Mugabe had repeatedly embarrassed the West with his "adroit diplomacy".


    Mugabe in his own words:

    "If you were my enemy, you are now my friend. If you hated me, you cannot avoid the love that binds me to you and you to me" - national address, 1980

    "Cricket civilises people and creates good gentlemen. I want everyone to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen" - undated

    "Let the MDC and its leadership be warned that those who play with fire will not only be burnt, but consumed by that fire" - 2003 election rally

    "We are not hungry... Why foist this food upon us? We don't want to be choked. We have enough" - interview with Sky TV in 2004, amid widespread food shortages

    "Only God, who appointed me, will remove me - not the MDC, not the British. Only God will remove me" - 2008 election rally

    "Don't drink at all, don't smoke, you must exercise and eat vegetables and fruit" - interview on his 88th birthday in 2012

    "[Nelson] Mandela [South Africa's first black president] has gone a bit too far in doing good to the non-black communities, really in some cases at the expense of [blacks]... That's being too saintly, too good, too much of a saint" - 2013 state TV interview


    As a former political rival of Mr Mugabe, who went on to serve as his home affairs minister, Dumiso Dabengwa witnessed the different sides of Zimbabwe's founding father.

    "Under normal circumstances, he would be very charming but when he got angry, he was something else - if you crossed him, he could certainly be ruthless," he told the BBC before his death in May 2019.

    Mr Dabengwa said the president would often let him win an argument over policy during the decade they worked together, or they would agree to compromise - not the behaviour of a dictator.

    But something, he added, changed after 2000 and Mr Mugabe resorted to threats to ensure he got his way.

    "He held compromising material over several of his colleagues and they knew they would face criminal charges if they opposed him."

    This is not a picture recognised by Chen Chimutengwende, who worked alongside Mr Mugabe in both the Zanu-PF party and government for 30 years.

    "In all the time I have worked with him, I have never seen him be vindictive or ill-treat anyone," he said.

    Mr Chimutengwende felt Zimbabwe's leader had been unfairly demonised in the Western media because of his policy of seizing land from white farmers whom he suspects of having influential supporters, especially in the UK, where many trace their roots.
    Mugabe the teacher

    The year 2000 marked a watershed both in the history of Zimbabwe and the career of Mr Mugabe.

    Until then, he was generally feted for reaching out towards the white community following independence, while Zimbabwe's economy was still faring pretty well.

    After coming to power in 1980, Mr Mugabe greatly expanded education and healthcare for black Zimbabweans and the country enjoyed living standards far higher than its neighbours.

    In 1995, a World Bank report praised Zimbabwe's rapid progress in the fields of health and literacy. Run by a former teacher, the country had the highest literacy rates in Africa.

    In her book, Dinner With Mugabe, Heidi Hollande said Mr Mugabe used to personally coach illiterate State House workers to help them pass exams.

    Mr Mbanga recalls listening to the songs of US country singer Jim Reeves together.

    "He could be very affectionate, he was an intellectual. He liked explaining things, like a teacher," said Mr Mbanga.

    "He went from trying to convince you with his arguments to a man who would send his thugs to beat you up if you disagreed with him."

    In fact, the warning signs were already there - the massacre of thousands of ethnic Ndebeles seen as supporters of Mr Mugabe's rival, Joshua Nkomo, in the 1980s and the start of the economic decline - but these were usually overlooked.

    "Some say he had us all fooled, I am convinced he himself changed," Mr Mbanga said.

    The journalist says that in his early years as president, Mr Mugabe genuinely believed in trying to improve the lives of his people, and introduced a "leadership code" which barred ministers from owning too much property.

    "Look at him today, he is fabulously wealthy. He is not the person I knew," Mr Mbanga said in May 2014.

    'Political calculator'

    In February 2000, the government lost a referendum on a draft constitution.

    With parliamentary elections looming four months later and a newly formed opposition party with close links to the "No" campaign posing a serious threat, Mr Mugabe unleashed his personal militia.

    Some were genuine veterans of the 1970s war of independence but others were far younger.

    TV footage of white farmers queuing up to make donations to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) meant Mr Mugabe was able to portray the opposition as stooges of the white community, and by extension the UK.

    The invasion of white-owned farms achieved several goals for Mr Mugabe and his allies:

    Punish the white community for their "betrayal"
    Remove a source of funding from the opposition
    Allow the "war veterans" to intimidate the many thousands of black farmworkers, largely seen as opposition supporters
    Ensure that the opposition could not campaign in rural areas
    Re-energise his supporters, some of whom had been losing faith in his ability to redistribute land - one of the grievances behind the 1970s war of independence
    Attract new supporters with the promise of land handouts.

    There was certainly a strong moral argument that land reform was needed in Zimbabwe but the way it was carried out was undoubtedly with political motivations uppermost.

    Despite the widespread violence, intimidation and electoral fraud, the MDC gained almost as many elected seats as Zanu-PF in 2000.

    Had it not been for the intimidation in rural areas, Zanu-PF may well have lost its majority.

    Lovemore Madhuku, one of the leaders of the "No" campaign in 2000, described Mr Mugabe as an "an excellent political calculator", who adapted his tactics to the situation.

    "There are moments when he chooses to be ruthless, others when he chooses to be magnanimous… He considers what is best - for him - in every situation and reacts accordingly," Mr Madhuku told the BBC.

    He said Mr Mugabe might not have realised the damage the seizure of white-owned land would do to Zimbabwe's economy but in any case, he would not have cared, as long as he remained president.

    Mr Chan agreed that, "in terms of Mr Mugabe's value-set, the ownership of the land is more important than the smooth running of the economy".

    And the economy continued to decline until 2008.

    After 28 years of Mr Mugabe's rule, the resourceful, largely self-sufficient country lay in ruins. The inflation rate had reached an unfathomable 231 million per cent and young Zimbabweans were voting with their feet, fleeing the country he had fought to liberate.

    And yet, from this low point, he once more managed to outmanoeuvre his rivals and remain in power for another nine years.

    'Mummy's Boy' to African liberator

    The key to understanding Robert Mugabe is the fight against white-minority rule.

    In the Rhodesia where he grew up, power was reserved for some 270,000 white people at the expense of about six millions Africans.

    A host of other laws discriminated against the black majority, largely subsistence farmers.

    They were forced to leave their ancestral land and pushed into the country's peripheral regions, with dry soil and low rainfall, while the most fertile areas were reserved for white farmers.

    Reclaiming the land was one of the main drivers behind the 1970s war which brought Mr Mugabe to power.

    The son of a carpenter who abandoned his family, as a child Mr Mugabe was said to have been a loner, who spent much of his time reading.

    Ms Hollande wrote that after his elder brother died of poisoning when Mr Mugabe was just 10, his mother became depressed and the young Mugabe would do everything he could for her, to the extent he was teased as a "mummy's boy" at school.

    He eventually qualified as a teacher and in 1958 went to work in Ghana, which had just become the first African country south of the Sahara to throw off the colonial yoke.

    Encouraged by his Ghanaian wife, Sally, and the pan-Africanist speeches of Ghana's leader Kwame Nkrumah, Mr Mugabe became determined to achieve the same back home.

    On his return in 1960, he started to campaign for an end to discrimination and was jailed for a decade after being convicted of sedition.

    While in prison, his supporters wrested control of Zanu, the biggest party fighting white rule, and installed him as leader.

    On his release, he was supposed to remain in the country but with the help of a white nun, he was smuggled over the border into Mozambique and the Zanu guerrilla camps.

    'He loves power'

    After Mr Mugabe won the 1980 elections which led to independence, he pursued a policy of reconciliation with the white community despite the bitterness built up during the war.

    In a national address after becoming prime minister, he declared: "If you were my enemy, you are now my friend. If you hated me, you cannot avoid the love that binds me to you and you to me."

    Four faces of Mugabe:

    Before independence:

    "He was a very nice guy. At that stage, he was not too sure of himself. There were very strong people in Zanu who were not afraid to oppose him. He would never take a decision on his own" - Dumiso Dabengwa


    "He did everything he could to improve the lives of his people. He wanted education for all. He wanted health for all. He introduced a leadership code limiting Zanu-PF cadres to 50 acres of land" - Wilf Mbanga


    "I worked very harmoniously with him and discussed issues. He would let me have my way or we would reach a compromise" - Dumiso Dabengwa

    2000 - 2017:

    "After 2000, he started flexing his muscles. He brought in people who he could influence. Several people were compromised - he held something over them" - Dumiso Dabengwa.

    "He has become fabulously wealthy. He is not the person I knew. He changed the moment Sally died [in 1992], when he married a young gold-digger [Grace Mugabe]" - Wilf Mbanga

    He allowed Ian Smith, the Rhodesian prime minister who had once declared that black people would not rule the country for 1,000 years and who reportedly personally refused to let Mr Mugabe leave prison for the funeral of his then only son, to remain both an MP and on his farm.

    At this point, according to Mr Madhuku, Mr Mugabe's hold on power was relatively weak, so he realised he had to reach out to his former enemies.

    Former home affairs minister Mr Dabengwa said Mr Mugabe was even less self-confident earlier on in his political career.

    "When I first met him in the 1960s, he was not sure of himself, of his position in Zanu," Mr Dabengwa recalled.

    "There were very strong people in Zanu who were not afraid to oppose him. He would never take a decision on his own but would always check with them first."

    But slowly, he consolidated control - first over the party which led the war against white-minority rule and later the country as a whole - until the point where his was the only voice that counted.

    "He loves power, it's in his DNA," said Mr Madhuku.

    Bonds forged in the bush

    Throughout his time as president, his closest allies were always those with whom he had endured the hardships of life in the bush.

    When they felt their grip on power, and its trappings, were threatened, they reverted wholeheartedly to the conflict mentality.

    "We are in a war to defend our rights and the interests of our people. The British have decided to take us on through the MDC," he told a 2002 election rally.

    This meant opposition supporters were denounced as traitors - a label which could mean an immediate death sentence.

    Mr Chimutengwende argued that the scale of the violence was exaggerated and in any case sought to distance it from Mr Mugabe: "It is not the leader who throws a stone, or asks his followers to throw a stone."

    But Mr Dabengwa, the minister in charge of the police in 2000, said Mr Mugabe's Zanu party had been using such methods since the 1980 election.

    He said that fighters from Zanu's armed wing had been sent out into rural areas to ensure villagers voted the "right" way, partly through all-night indoctrination sessions, known as "pungwes".

    "People were told there were magic binoculars which could tell which way they voted and there were no-go areas for other parties," said Mr Dabengwa, whose Zapu party came a distant second in 1980.

    "But the British declared those elections free and fair and so Zanu learnt that that was how to win an election."

    Although he won those elections in 1980, and formed a coalition government with Zapu, the underlying tensions burst into open violence just two years later.

    Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo was accused of plotting a coup and the army's North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade was sent to his home region of Matabeleland.

    More than 20,000 people were killed in Operation Gukurahundi, which means "the early rain which washes away the chaff".

    At the time, South African double-agent Kevin Woods was making daily reports in person to then Prime Minister Mugabe for the internal security force, the Central Intelligence Organisation.

    "He obviously wanted to know exactly what Fifth Brigade was doing," he wrote in his autobiography.

    In the end, a subdued Mr Nkomo once more agreed to share power with his enemy in order to end the violence in his home region - a forerunner of what later happened to the MDC.
    Mugabe timeline

    21 February 1924: Born

    1964: Jailed after being convicted of sedition

    1973: Becomes Zanu leader

    1980: Becomes prime minister of Zimbabwe

    1987: Becomes president under new constitution agreed under deal to end Matabeleland massacres

    1992: Wife Sally dies

    1996: Marries Grace Marufu

    2000: Loses referendum, land invasions begin

    2002: Wins presidential election amid widespread violence and fraud allegations

    2005: Launches Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Rubbish), which forces 700,000 urban residents from their homes - seen as punishment for opposition supporters

    2008: Comes second in election, violence leads his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from run-off

    2009: Forms coalition government

    2013: Resoundingly re-elected, Tsvangirai returns to opposition

    2017: Forced to resign after army seizes power

    6 September 2019: Dies in Singapore, which he visits for hospital treatment

    Before he was finally ousted, his political low point was in 2008, when MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat him in a presidential election, although not by enough for outright victory, according to the official results.

    There were numerous reports Mr Mugabe was on the verge of resigning, although Mr Madhuku said he did not believe them, as the president subsequently demonstrated his determination to remain in power.

    Again, a setback led to a sustained campaign of violence against his "enemies".

    The army and Zanu-PF militias attacked MDC supporters around the country, killing more than 100 and forcing thousands from their homes.

    It became obvious that Zanu-PF would not relinquish its grip on power and Mr Tsvangirai withdrew from the second round, saying it was the only way to save lives.

    Zimbabwe's economy continued its freefall, reaching its nadir when people were dying from cholera in Harare because the country did not have the foreign currency to import the necessary chemicals to treat the water.

    Under intense pressure, Mr Mugabe agreed to a coalition government with his long-time rival and, under MDC stewardship, the economy recovered.

    But Prime Minister Tsvangirai was severely tarnished by working with Mr Mugabe - the president always managed to keep real power for himself and his allies.

    By the time of the 2013 election, Mr Mugabe did not need to resort to extreme violence to win easily. He had once more demonstrated his remarkable skills of political survival and he remained in power until he was forced out in 2017.

    Love-hate relationship with the UK

    Mr Mugabe justified the 2000 land invasions by saying the UK's Labour government, in power since 1997, had reneged on a British promise to fund peaceful land reform.

    While it might be expected that an avowedly Marxist liberation fighter would have more in common with the Labour Party than the Conservatives, the opposite turned out to be true.

    Under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the UK accepted that as the former colonial power, it had the moral duty to help finance the process of buying white-owned land and redistributing it to black farmers.

    But after a report found the process had been tainted by cronyism, British funding was put on hold.

    The new Labour government took matters further and declared: "We do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe."

    In 2013, Mr Mugabe observed: "Mrs Thatcher, you could trust her. But of course what happened later was a different story with the Labour Party and [former Prime Minister Tony] Blair, who you could never trust.

    "Who can ever believe what Mr Blair says? Here we call him Bliar."

    Despite the vitriol directed at the UK from 2000 onwards, Mr Mugabe was in some ways the epitome of an English gentleman.

    He was usually turned out in immaculate, dark, three-piece suits and ties - until he was given a makeover in 2000 and advised to campaign in brightly coloured cloth emblazoned with his own face, like many other African leaders.

    Visitors to State House were always offered tea to drink and he was a huge fan of cricket.

    "Cricket civilises people and creates good gentlemen. I want everyone to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen," he once said.
    'Beaten Christ'

    He was educated by Jesuits in the Katuma mission near his birthplace in Zvimba, north-west of Salisbury (now Harare), where he was taken under the wing of an Irish priest, Jerome O'Hea.

    This is presumably where he developed his abstemious nature - he did not drink alcohol or coffee and was largely vegetarian.

    His second wife Grace said he used to wake up at 05:00 for his exercises, including yoga.

    This healthy lifestyle was no doubt one reason why he lived until the age of 95.

    For many years, his health was a constant source of speculation.

    A 2008 US cable quoted in Wikileaks suggested Mr Mugabe had been diagnosed with cancer, giving him between three and five years to live.

    This prognosis turned out to be false, and on his 88th birthday Mr Mugabe joked he had "beaten Christ" because he had died and been resurrected so many times.

    'Spoilt legacy'

    While he was vilified in the West, his anti-colonial rhetoric did strike a chord across Africa, even among many who condemned his human rights record.

    At the 2013 memorial service in Soweto for Nelson Mandela - who replaced Mr Mugabe as Africa's most admired anti-colonial fighter - Zimbabwe's president was wildly cheered by the young South African crowd, even as they booed their own then leader, Jacob Zuma.

    "A lot of people think that pan-Africanism is a thing of the past but that is not true," said Mr Mugabe's staunch ally, Chen Chimutengwende.

    "While imperialism and racism exist, pan-Africanism is still needed," he told the BBC.

    But Zimbabwean journalist Wilf Mbanga said that in his latter years, Mr Mugabe had far more support outside his home country than within.

    "Those young South Africans who praise him do not have to live under his rule," he said, pointing out that many Ghanaians had less than fond memories of life under pan-African hero Kwame Nkrumah, who had inspired Mr Mugabe.

    So how will Mr Mugabe be remembered?

    Mr Chan said that until 2000, Mr Mugabe had a "good report card", although the verdict later turned to "disastrous".

    "If he had died after 10 years in power, he would have been my hero forever," said Mr Mbanga.

    "But look at the schools and hospitals now.

    "He has spoilt his legacy. Now, people will remember him for driving people out of Harare, Gukurahundi, election violence and everything else."

    Joseph Winter was the BBC's Zimbabwe correspondent from 1997 until he was expelled in 2001

  • UK shadow foreign secretary shedding no tears over Mugabe's death

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:39hrs

    The UK shadow foreign secretary criticised Mr Mugabe's presidency

    Emily Thornberry, the UK's shadow foreign secretary, told BBC's Today programme: "I'm not going to shed any tears for the death of Mugabe.

    "He took over a country when it had such promise, and we were all so hopeful… but he completely lost his way and I think helped to ruin the chance of a country that did have a great future."

    The UK's relations with Zimbabwe deteriorated when Labour came to power in 1997 with Tony Blair as prime minister.

    When asked what Mr Blair's government policies achieved on Zimbabwe, Ms Thornberry said: "I am not going to pretend that it was anything other than a manifest failure.

    "It was very difficult to shift a man who managed to gather power completely to himself and was not going to listen and increasingly didn't listen, and who was simply interested in entrenching himself and didn't care about the poorest in his country.

    "When he first came to power [in 1980], many of us genuinely believed that he did, and that he would make a difference to Zimbabwe."

  • Magufule's message on Mugabe's demise

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:38hrs

  • Mugabe remembered as a 'man of courage'

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:37hrs

    Kenya's president has paid tribute to Robert Mugabe, saying the 95-year-old had been "an elder statesman, a freedom fighter and a pan-Africanist who played a major role in shaping the interests of the African continent".

    "We will remember former President Mugabe as a man of courage who was never afraid to fight for what he believed in even when it was not popular," Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement.

    His Tanzanian counterpart, John Magufuli, shared similar sentiments, tweeting in Swahili: "Africa has lost one of its courageous leaders, who resisted colonisation through actions."

  • Uhuru Kenyatta mourns Mugabe

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:36hrs

    On behalf of the Government and the People of the Republic of Kenya and on my own behalf, I wish to convey our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Government and the People of the Republic of Zimbabwe following the death of former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

    In this moment of sorrow, my thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his relatives and the people of Zimbabwe who, for many years, he served with commitment and dedication. Words cannot convey the magnitude of the loss as former President Mugabe was an elder statesman, a freedom fighter and a Pan-Africanist who played a major role in shaping the interests of the African continent

    Indeed, we will remember former President Mugabe as a man of courage who was never afraid to fight for what he believed in even when it was not popular.

    To his family, the Government and the people of Zimbabwe, may the Almighty God comfort you and may the soul of former President Mugabe rest in eternal peace.

    His Excellency Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, C.G.H PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA
    6th September, 2019

  • Ramaphosa mourns passing of Mugabe

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:23hrs

    President Cyril Ramaphosa has on behalf of the government and people of South Africa expressed his sincere condolences to the people and government of the Republic of Zimbabwe following the passing of Founding President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.President Mugabe, Zimbabwe's first post-independence president, has passed away in Singapore at the age of 95.

    Paying tribute to President Mugabe, President Ramaphosa said: "South Africans join the people and government of Zimbabwe in mourning the passing of a liberation fighter and champion of Africa's cause against colonialism.

    "Under President Mugabe's leadership, Zimbabwe's sustained and valiant struggle against colonialism inspired our own struggle against apartheid and built in us the hope that one day South Africa too would be free.

    "During the decades of our own struggle, Zimbabwe's liberation movement supported our own liberation movement to fight oppression on multiple fronts. After Zimbabwe achieved independence, the apartheid state brutalised and violated Zimbabwe as punishment for supporting our own struggle.

    "Many Zimbabweans paid with their lives so that we could be free. We will never forget or dishonour this sacrifice and solidarity."

    Early in his life, President Mugabe won a scholarship to Fort Hare University where he obtained the first of his seven academic degrees.

    President Ramaphosa also acknowledged the role President Mugabe had played in advancing regional solidarity, integration and development through Zimbabwe's participation in the Southern African Development Community.

  • UK MP says Mugabe killed 80,000 people during gukurahundi

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:21hrs

  • ANC mourns Mugabe

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:06hrs

    The African National Congress mourns the passing of our brother Comrade President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who passes away having devoted his life to the service of his country and his people.

    In his Independence Day speech delivered on March 6, 1957, the father of Ghana's independence, Kwame Nkrumah delivered the rousing words that went on to nourish and sustain the hopes of all Africans who at the time yearned for independence and self-determination.

    "We have awakened..we will not sleep anymore. Today, from now on, there is a new African in the world."

    "The new Africa "is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs."

    The life of Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe came to epitomize the 'new African' - who having shrugged off the colonial yoke, would strive to ensure his country took its rightful place amongst the community of nations: firmly in charge of its own destiny.

    Born on 21 February 1924, Comrade Mugabe led the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in the Second Chimurenga: the war against white minority rule in the then-Rhodesia during the 1960's and 1970's.

    The revolutionary struggle of ZANU-PF was an inspiration to the then-banned and suppressed African National Congress (ANC) who was fighting the apartheid government in South Africa.

    A trained teacher, Comrade Mugabe was held as a political prisoner by the racist Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith between 1964 and 1974. His prison years came at a great personal cost, much like that of his long-time comrade and friend the late Comrade Nelson Mandela: his wife was arrested and his child died whilst he was in prison.

    As one of the key negotiators of the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement that paved the way for Zimbabwe's independence, Comrade Mugabe was at the time an ardent supporter of national reconcilation between black and white Zimbabweans. In the early days of Zimbwean indepence he extended the olive branch to his white countrymen: saying famously: "Stay with us, please remain in this country and constitute a nation based on national unity."

    Comrade Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF has over the years been a longstanding friend and supporter of the African National Congress (ANC), from the exile years through to democracy. Our fraternal relations, grounded in the mutual aspirations of human rights, political dignity and social justice - have endured over the years.

    Throughout his life, the late Comrade Mugabe as an ardent and vocal advocate of African unity and self-reliance and will always be remembered for his rallying cry: "Africa is for Africans, Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans." He was elected Chairperson of the African Union in 2015 - having led the OAU (the forerunner to the AU) between 1997 and 1998.

    Though the ANC and its leadership may have differed, often vociferously, with Comrade Mugabe on matters of national interest - as fraternal organizations we held as sacrosanct the principle of sovereignty. History alone will be the decider over whether the courses of action taken by leaders in the intersts of their countrymen, were the correct ones. We remember the immortal words of William Shakespeare, that the deeds men do live after them, and yet "the good is oft interred with their bones."

    To the Mugabe family, we extend our heartfelt condolences.

    To our friends in ZANU-PF be comforted that you have lost a leader whose service to his country will forever be inscribed. We mourn with you the passing of our friend, statesman, leader, revolutionary.

    Issued by:
    ANC Secretary General
    Ace Magashule

    National Spokesperson
    Pule Mabe

  • 06 Sep 2019 at 09:04hrs

  • Pastor Evan Mawarire celebrating MUgabe's demise

    06 Sep 2019 at 09:03hrs

  • Whats Kelvin Sifiso Malunga said on Twitter

    06 Sep 2019 at 08:56hrs

  • Mugabe a Pan Africanist

    06 Sep 2019 at 08:54hrs

  • Mugabe enjoyed acceptance among peers in Africa

    06 Sep 2019 at 08:48hrs

    Mugabe's decline in his last years as president was partly linked to the political ambitions of his wife, Grace, a brash, divisive figure whose ruling party faction eventually lost out in a power struggle with supporters of Mnangagwa, who was close to the military.

    Despite Zimbabwe's decline during his rule, Mugabe remained defiant, railing against the West for what he called its neo-colonialist attitude and urging Africans to take control of their resources, a populist message that was often a hit even as many nations on the continent shed the strongman model and moved toward democracy.

    Mugabe enjoyed acceptance among peers in Africa who chose not to judge him in the same way as Britain, the United States and other Western detractors.

    Toward the end of his rule, he served as rotating chairperson of the 54-nation African Union and the 15-nation Southern African Development Community; his criticism of the International Criminal Court was welcomed by regional leaders who also thought it was being unfairly used to target Africans.
    Al Jazeera

  • Mugabe once famously said he'd rule his country until he turned 100

    06 Sep 2019 at 08:47hrs

    Mugabe's four-year-old son by his first wife, Ghanaian-born Sally Francesca Hayfron, died while he was behind bars.

    Rhodesian leader Ian Smith denied him leave to attend the funeral.

    He once famously said that he'd rule his country until he turned 100, and many expected him to die in office. But growing discontent about the southern African country's fractured leadership and other problems prompted a military intervention, impeachment proceedings by the Parliament and large street demonstrations for his removal.

    The announcement of Mugabe's November 21, 2017 resignation after he initially ignored escalating calls to quit triggered wild celebrations in the streets of the capital, Harare.
    Al Jazeera

  • Mugabe described as 'a loner and a studious child'

    06 Sep 2019 at 08:47hrs

    Born on February 21, 1924, into a Catholic family at Kutama Mission northwest of Harare, Mugabe was described as a loner and a studious child, known to carry a book even while tending cattle in the bush.

    After his carpenter father left the family when he was 10, the young Mugabe concentrated on his studies, qualifying as a schoolteacher at the age of 17.

    An intellectual who initially embraced Marxism, he enrolled at Fort Hare University in South Africa, meeting many of Southern Africa's future black nationalist leaders.

    After teaching in Ghana, where he was influenced by founder president Kwame Nkrumah, Mugabe returned to what was then Rhodesia, where he was detained for his nationalist activities in 1964 and spent the next 10 years in prison camps or jail.

    During his incarceration, he gained three degrees through correspondence, but the years in prison were wrenching.
    Al Jazeera

  • 'His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten' - Mnangagwa

    06 Sep 2019 at 08:46hrs

    Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said.

    "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.

    "His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace," he added.After Mugabe's fall from office in November 2017, his renowned physical stamina seemed to seep away.

    The former political prisoner turned guerrilla leader swept to power in the 1980 elections after a growing rebellion and economic sanctions forced the white minority colonial government to the negotiating table.
    Al Jazeera

  • Robert Mugabe: A leader loved and hated in equal measure by Zimbabweans

    06 Sep 2019 at 08:45hrs

    Longtime Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has died. He was 95.

    Loved and hated in almost equal measure by Zimbabweans, the former teacher was best known for leading Zimbabwe to independence, his controversial land reform programme, his hatred of any political opposition and his very glamorous young wife Grace.

    Mugabe was reported to have died with such frequency in recent years that he boasted once that he had "beaten Jesus Christ because he only died once". But as he became noticeably more doddery in his 90s, slipping twice in public in 2015, officials in his party began to campaign more openly to succeed him despite his very obvious displeasure.

    The lonely former cattle herder and teacher ruled Zimbabwe with an iron grip from independence in 1980. He came to power on a wave of international goodwill, promising reconciliation with whites who stayed on in the former Rhodesia after a 12-year bush war. But the soothing platitudes turned sour.

    In the early 1980s, he launched a brutal attack on dissidents in the southern Matabeleland provinces. Up to 20 000 villagers were killed by the president's North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in an operation known as Gukurahundi (The Rains that Sweep Away the Chaff).

    Land redistribution

    It took him 20 years to offer any kind of apology. By then Mugabe had turned his sights on the latest threat: the newly-formed Movement for Democratic Change, led by former textile worker Morgan Tsvangirai.

    Believing the party was to be bankrolled by Zimbabwe's 4 000 white farmers, Mugabe embarked on a programme of land redistribution. Thirteen farmers were killed and tens of thousands of farmworkers lost homes and jobs in the grabs, which are ongoing.

    Agricultural production plummeted, shortages set in and inflation began to climb, reaching at its apogee in 2008 an official 231 million percent.

    When the MDC won most seats in major cities in parliamentary elections in 2005, Mugabe embarked on more retribution: sending out bulldozers to tear down shacks in Zimbabwe's townships. The UN said 700 000 lost their homes or jobs in Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out The Filth).Few were ever rehoused.

    When he lost the first round of presidential elections to Tsvangirai in 2008, Mugabe's security chief drew up a quick plan of attack. Two hundred MDC supporters were killed, leading Tsvangirai to pull out of the second round.

    The 'nearest woman' to him

    The regional SADC grouping refused to accept Mugabe's victory, forcing him into a coalition in September (though he made sure he and his allies gave up little power). Soon cholera was creeping through Zimbabwe's wrecked townships, helped on by a public health system in tatters. At least 4 000 Zimbabweans died: Mugabe and his allies blamed the outbreak on Western sanctions.

    In later years, Mugabe tried to soften his image, granting interviews to state media and, in December 2013, to the son of a South African freedom fighter, Dali Tambo.

    In these carefully-choreographed pieces, viewers were treated to titbits of life chez les Mugabe: Grace enthusing about her husband rescuing her dairy project, Mugabe - less flatteringly - acknowledging that he chose his secretary because she was "the nearest" woman to him when his first wife Sally lay dying from kidney disease.

    Grace suddenly took on a much bigger role in politics in 2014, after years as a demure shoe-shopper and philanthropist. She was instrumental in getting vice president Joice Mujuru fired in December 2014, officially for wearing a miniskirt and plotting to "kill" Mugabe (though everyone knew it was really because Mujuru's popularity had become a threat to the first couple).

    Brave leader

    As head of the Zanu-PF women's league, Grace was given a right-hand seat in Mugabe's Soviet-style politburo. Her insistence that she was senior to the two party officials who were named to the vice presidency after Mujuru's unceremonious dismissal was at odds with her oft-repeated denials that she had any desire to take Mugabe's place as president.

    Mugabe himself stayed mum on the subject, though he occasionally appeared to suggest he had no control of his wife.

    In much of southern Africa, Mugabe was seen as a brave leader who'd dared to challenge - and humiliate - white settlers by retaking their land. His popularity was harder to gauge within Zimbabwe, where he continued to win elections with overwhelming support from rural populations.

    Significantly, Mugabe's support base appeared to strengthen during the four years of the coalition as some tech-savvy urban youths grew disillusioned with Tsvangirai's personal excesses and the corruption of low-level MDC councillors.

    As he turned 90, the president became an unlikely fashion icon. Soccer supporters jostled to wear a "Hovhorosi-style" overall, emblazoned with the president's signature.There were Mugabe T-shirts and Mugabe umbrellas. It was reported that if you managed to get a Mugabe signature on your car, you wouldn't be forced to pay a bribe at a roadblock. But the fear remained. As the economy dipped again from 2014, frustrations mounted. Everyone knew he was on his way out: the only question was when.

    Complex web of fear

    Mugabe was called many things over the years by fed-up Zimbabweans. "Rotten old donkey" was a favourite term of abuse: "Robot Mugabe" was another. But bad-mouthing the president was a crime that could get you arrested. The scary thing was that in most cases the 'insulters' were shipped by ordinary Zimbabweans: bus passengers, shoppers at a supermarket till, fellow beer drinkers or members of a WhatsApp chat group.

    Mugabe's lieutenants maintained a complex web of fear, starting with his military generals and reaching down to the lowest level of informants. At the heart of the post-2000 crisis, Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube - himself brought down in a CIO honey-trap - estimated that 1 in 6 Zimbabweans was in the pay of the secret service. The size of the secret service was never confirmed, but two reporters who dared suggest agents had been paid a yearly bonus at the end of 2015 when the rest of the civil service hadn't, found themselves in police cells.

    Mugabe had been ailing for a long time. As a reporter, you got used to the Has-he-gone-yet? phone-call late at night, the sighting of his military helicopter at a Pretoria health facility. Before Wikileaks the rumour in Harare was that he had syphilis. Then his personal banker, Gideon Gono told the US ambassador it was actually prostate cancer he was afflicted with, advanced and terminal. That was in 2008. As his doctors predicted, he took years to die, maintained by frequent trips for Far Eastern medical attention - and, no doubt, the grim knowledge that his party would likely implode without him.

    His mother Bona had lived until well into her 90s: his genes were good.
    Compiled by Alet Janse van Rensburg

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