Zimbabwe ex-President Robert Mugabe is dead
London, Sep 6, 2019 (AltAfrica) Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s first post-independence leader is dead. He died at the age of 95 after battling with ill health, sources close to his family revealed.
Mr. Mugabe was a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017. He chaired the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) group from 1975 to 1980 and led its successor political party, the ZANU – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF), from 1980 to 2017. Ideologically an African nationalist, during the 1970s and 1980s he identified as a Marxist–Leninist, although after the 1990s self-identified only as a socialist.
Mr. Mugabe was ousted from power in a military coup in November 2017, ending his three-decade reign.
He was born poor on 21 February 1924 to a poor Shona family in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia. Following an education at Kutama College and the University of Fort Hare, he worked as a school teacher in Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Ghana. Angered that Southern Rhodesia was a colony of the British Empire governed by its white minority, Mugabe embraced Marxism and joined African nationalist protests calling for an independent state led by representatives of the black majority.
After making anti-government comments, he was convicted of sedition and imprisoned between 1964 and 1974. On release, he fled to Mozambique, established his leadership of ZANU, and oversaw ZANU’s role in the Rhodesian Bush War, fighting Ian Smith’s predominantly white government. He reluctantly took part in the peace negotiations brokered by the United Kingdom that resulted in the Lancaster House Agreement. The agreement ended the war and resulted in the 1980 general election, at which Mugabe led ZANU-PF to victory.
As Prime Minister of the newly renamed Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s administration expanded healthcare and education and—despite his professed Marxist desire for a socialist society—adhered largely to the mainstream, conservative economic policies.
Mugabe emphasised the redistribution of land controlled by white farmers to landless blacks, initially on a “willing seller–willing buyer” basis. Frustrated at the slow rate of redistribution, from 2000 he encouraged black Zimbabweans to violently seize white-owned farms. Food production was severely impacted, leading to famine, drastic economic decline, and international sanctions. Opposition to Mugabe grew, although he was re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2013 through campaigns dominated by violence, electoral fraud, and nationalistic appeals to his rural Shona voter base. In 2017, members of his own party ousted him in a coup, replacing him with former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Having dominated Zimbabwe’s politics for nearly four decades, Mugabe is a controversial figure. He has been praised as a revolutionary hero of the African liberation struggle who helped to free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism, and white minority rule. Conversely, in governance, he has been accused of being a dictator responsible for economic mismanagement, widespread corruption, anti-white racism, human rights abuses, and crimes against humanity.
Robert Mugabe – key dates
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 the 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
Current President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced his predecessor’s death on Twitter, describing him as an “icon of liberation” whose “contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten”.
It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe (1/2)— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) September 6, 2019
Energy Mutodi, deputy information minister with the governing Zanu-PF said: “This is a sorrowful moment for Zimbabwe and for Africa and the whole world. We are very much saddened by the passing on of our former president. He was an icon, he was the founding father of Zimbabwe.” Responding to criticism that Mr. Mugabe presided over the nation’s economic decline, Mr. Mutodi said: “There is a lot that he did that benefited the people of Zimbabwe… and Africa.”