Robert Mugabe, the independence icon turned authoritarian leader of Zimbabwe, has died aged 95.
Mr. 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 death was announced by his successor and the current president of Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
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
The former president was praised for broadening access to health and education for the black majority But by the twenty-first century, Mugabe was regarded as one of the world’s most controversial political leaders. According to The Black Scholar journal, “depending on who you listen to … Mugabe is either one of the world’s great tyrants or a fearless nationalist who has incurred the wrath of the West.” He has been widely described as a “dictator,” a “tyrant,” and a “threat” has been referred to as one of Africa’s “most brutal” leaders. At the same time, he continued to be regarded as a hero in many Third World countries and received a warm reception when traveling throughout Africa. For many in Southern Africa, he remained one of the “grand old men” of the African liberation movement.
Mr. Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state before his ouster in 2017, was the only leader Zimbabweans had known since independence, in 1980. Like many who liberated their countries, Mr. Mugabe believed that Zimbabwe was his to govern until the end. In a speech before the African Union in 2016, he said he would remain at the helm “until God says, ‘Come.’
In an interview with state-run television on his 93rd birthday, on February 2017, Mr. Mugabe indicated that he would run again in presidential elections in 2018. “They want me to stand for elections; they want me to stand for elections everywhere in the party,” he said. “The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement, successor, who to them is acceptable, as acceptable as I am.”
There are mixed reactions to his death especially in Zimbabwe today. However, we express our condolences to all those who mourn.