Mugabe declared a national hero


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Zimbabwe has declared Robert Mugabe a national hero, President Emmerson Mnangagwa says, and the country is to be in national mourning until the former leader is buried.

Mugabe, who ruled the southern African nation for nearly four decades, died in a Singapore hospital today aged 95.

The guerilla leader’s death comes two years after the army brought an ignominious end to his iron-fisted rule.

“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.

In November, Mnangagwa said Mugabe was no longer able to walk when he had been admitted to a hospital in Singapore, without saying what treatment he had been undergoing.

Officials often said he was being treated for a cataract, denying frequent private media reports he had prostate cancer.

On leading Zimbabwe to independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe was feted as an African liberation hero and champion of racial reconciliation.

But later, many at home and abroad denounced him as a power-obsessed autocrat willing to unleash death squads against his political enemies, rig elections and trash the economy in the relentless pursuit of control.

“(Comrade) 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,” Mnangagwa said on Twitter.

David Coltart, an opposition senator and rights lawyer who opposed Mugabe, nevertheless paid tribute 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 & expanding a quality education to all Zimbabweans,” Coltart said on Twitter.

African leaders praised Mugabe following news of his death, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who described him as a “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,” Ramaphosa said.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Mugabe would be remembered as a “man of courage” who was never afraid to fight for what he believed in, even when it was not popular.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli said Africa “has lost one of its bravest and Pan-Africanist leaders, who led by example in opposing colonialism”.

A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed condolences to those who mourn Mugabe.

“There will be mixed emotions in Zimbabwe at today’s news. We of course express our condolences to those who mourn but know that for many he was a barrier to a better future.”

Mugabe was forced to resign in November 2017 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. – 9News

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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