Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s strongman leader of 37 years who presided over the collapse of what was one of Africa’s most promising post-independence states, has died.
Mugabe died in Singapore, where he has often received medical treatment in recent years, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Report Focus News
His death was confirmed by Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten,” Mr Mnangagwa said. He called his mentor “an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people”.
Just a few weeks ago he reportedly asked to be buried next to his mother Bona on the family farm near Harare. He had refused a burial at the Heroes Acre, a North Korean-built monument where graves are waiting for him and his wife.
Mugabe was hailed by some fellow African leaders today, many of whom stood by him despite the brutality of his regime, but he will be little mourned by many of his countrymen who are now free to say so without fear of repression.
He came to power in 1980 as the founding leader of Zimbabwe, initially hailed as a liberator after the country became fully independent from British rule.
But his own reign was marked by murder, bloodshed, torture, persecution of political opponents, intimidation and vote-rigging on a grand scale and there was jubilation in the streets of Zimbabwe when he was toppled in 2017.
And under Mugabe’s leadership the economy of a mineral-rich country descended into chaos with thousands of people reduced to grinding poverty, many of them suffering from near-starvation and worse.
Robert Mugabe – key dates
- 1924: Born
- 1964: Imprisoned by Rhodesian government
- 1980: Wins first post-independence elections
- 1996: Marries Grace Marufu after death of first wife, a Ghanaian
- 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 served in uneasy government of national unity for four years
- 2017: Sacks long-time ally Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, allegedly in favour of his wife wife Grace, as successor
- November 2017: Army intervenes and forces him to step down
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