Robert Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe with an iron fist from 1980 to 2017, has died aged 95, the country’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced on Friday September 6th, Reuters reported.
"It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe," a post on Mnangagwa's official presidential Twitter account said.
Mugabe, the former guerrilla leader, died in Singapore where he had often received medical treatment in recent years. In November, Mnangagwa said Mugabe was hospitalised in Singapore but without saying what treatment Mugabe had been undergoing. But officials often said he was being treated for a cataract, denying frequent private media reports that he had prostate cancer.
On leading Zimbabwe to independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe was feted at first as an African liberator and champion of racial reconciliation, but later, Mugabe used repression and fear to hold on to power in Zimbabwe. Many at home and abroad denounced him as a power-obsessed autocrat, until he was finally ousted by his loyal military generals. He died two years after the army brought an abrupt end to almost four decades of his iron-fisted rule.
David Coltart, an opposition senator and rights lawyer who opposed Mugabe, nevertheless paid homage to a leader who once described himself as having "a degree in violence.”
"He was a colossus on the Zimbabwean stage and his enduring positive legacy will be his role in ending white minority rule and expanding a quality education to all Zimbabweans," Coltart said on Twitter.
In November 2017, Mugabe was forced to resign 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 that 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 condemned 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. However, his departure failed to boost Zimbabwe's economy, which remains in its worst economic crisis in a decade.