Mugabe dies in front of Grace

 Mugabe dies in front of Grace
Published: 06 September 2019
Zimbabwe's founding leader Robert Gabriel Mugabe has died aged 95.

Mugabe died in a hospital in Singapore on Friday surrounded by family including his wife, Grace.

"Sadly, we have lost him. It's a day we hoped would never come, but he has had a good innings and is now rested," a former minister in Mugabe's government said, declining to be named as he was not cleared to speak to the media by the family.

Mugabe, ousted from power in a military coup in November 2017 after 37 years in power, had been receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment in Singapore since April.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who seized power after Mugabe's ouster, eulogised him as an "icon" in a Twitter tribute.

"It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe," Mnangagwa tweeted.

"Cde 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. May his soul rest in eternal peace."

Mnangagwa told a Cabinet meeting two weeks ago that doctors had "taken him off life support", referring to Mugabe.

"There's nothing more they can do for him," Mnangagwa told Cabinet, according to a minister who was present.

Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924, in what was then Rhodesia.

He won Zimbabwe's first election after independence, becoming Prime Minister in 1980. He abolished the office in 1987, becoming President instead.

Mugabe promised democracy and reconciliation. But the hope that accompanied independence in 1980 dissolved into violence, corruption and economic disaster.

He became an outspoken critic of the West, most notably the United Kingdom, the former colonial power, which he denounced as an "enemy country".

He traced the increasing hostility to his rule by Western governments to his programme of seizing land from white farmers to resettle landless blacks.

Despite his brutal treatment of political opponents, and his economic mismanagement of a once prosperous country, he continued to attract the support of other African leaders.

The son of a carpenter and one of the majority Shona-speaking people, Mugabe was educated at Roman Catholic mission schools and qualified as a teacher.

Winning a scholarship to Fort Hare University in South Africa, he took the first of his seven academic degrees before teaching in Ghana, where he was greatly influenced by the pan-Africanist ideas of Ghana's post-independence leader Kwame Nkrumah. His first wife Sally was Ghanaian.

In 1960, Mugabe returned to Rhodesia. At first he worked for the African nationalist cause with Joshua Nkomo, before breaking away to become a founder member of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu).

In 1964, after making a speech in which he called Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith and his government "cowboys", Mugabe was arrested and detained without trial for a decade.

While still in prison, he was chosen as president of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), of which he was a founding member.

His baby son died while he was still in prison and he was refused permission to attend the funeral.

After his release, he went to Mozambique and directed guerrilla raids into Rhodesia. His Zanu organisation formed a loose alliance with Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (Zapu).

During the tortuous negotiations on independence for Rhodesia, he was seen as the most militant of the black leaders, and the most uncompromising in his demands.

On a 1976 visit to London, he declared that the only solution to the Rhodesian problem would come out of the barrel of a gun.

But his negotiating skills earned him the respect of many of his former critics. The press hailed him as "the thinking man's guerrilla".

The Lancaster House agreement of 1979 set up a constitution for the new Republic of Zimbabwe, as Rhodesia was to be called, and set February 1980 for the first elections to the new government.

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, rig elections and trash the economy in the relentless pursuit of control.

Mugabe was ousted in a military coup in November 2017.

His ouster triggered wild celebrations across the country of 13 million. Mugabe denounced his removal as an "unconstitutional and humiliating" act of betrayal by his party and people, and it left him a broken man.

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 Mugabe had been undergoing.

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


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