Robert Mugabe, former Zimbabwe president, dies aged 95

Final years in power were characterised by financial collapse, violent intimidation and vicious power struggle

Robert Mugabe, the deeply divisive former president of Zimbabwe, was declared a national hero by the ruling Zanu-PF party on Friday, as preparations for his funeral got under way in the nation he ruled with an iron first for almost 40 years.

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The death of the former president on Thursday night in a clinic in Singapore marks the definitive end of an era in the former British colony.

Mugabe, who died aged 95, ruled Zimbabwe for close to four decades before being ousted in a military takeover in November 2017.

Though initially admired as a hero of Africas independence struggle, his long rule descended into tyranny, corruption and incompetence, earning him international pariah status. His death prompted mixed reactions in Zimbabwe, across Africa and around the world.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power after Mugabes fall, called his predecessor an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people and said Zimbabwe would be in official mourning until the former leaders remains were brought back from Singapore and buried.

Tendai Biti, a prominent opposition politician, said that though he had been tortured on Mugabes orders, he was not bitter.

He brought massive destruction to Zimbabwe but was a product of his era. He did not know how to make the transformation from liberation leader to national leader, Biti told the Guardian.

No plans for a funeral have been announced, but it is expected to take place in the capital, Harare, or Mugabes home town of Zvimba.

The ruling African National Congress party in neighbouring South Africa described Mugabe as a friend, statesman and revolutionary comrade. In a statement, the ANC acknowledged that it had sometimes differed vociferously with him, but remembered an ardent and vocal advocate of African unity and self-reliance whose struggle had been an inspiration.

Flags in Kenya were flown at half mast.

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But in the UK, Downing Street said that while we of course express our condolences to those who mourn the former leader represented a barrier to a better future.

Under his rule the people of Zimbabwe suffered greatly as he impoverished their country and sanctioned the use of violence against them, a spokesman for prime minister Boris Johnson said.

Mugabe had made frequent visits to Singapore to receive medical care in recent months as his health deteriorated. As far back as November 2018, Mnangagwa told members of the ruling Zanu-PF party that Mugabe could no longer walk.

Once widely celebrated for his role in fighting the white supremacist regime in his homeland, Mugabe had long become a deeply divisive figure in his own country and across the continent.

Emmerson
Emmerson Mnangagwa at a rally in November 2018. Photograph: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images

His final years in power were characterised by financial collapse, surges of violent intimidation and a vicious internal power struggle pitting his second wife Grace, 41 years younger than him, against Mnangagwa, his former right-hand man.

The rivalry was resolved when Mnangagwa, a Zanu-PF stalwart, took power when Mugabe reluctantly resigned after a military takeover. The news of his decision prompted widespread rejoicing.

On Friday Mnangagwa thanked former first lady Grace Mugabe for standing by her husband until the end.

Grace Mugabe became known for her lavish lifestyle and joined the Zanu-PF politburo by virtue of her leadership of the partys influential Womens League in 2014. She became a political liability for the ageing autocrat, however, and her outspoken criticism of Mnangagwa was one of the triggers for the military takeover that ousted her husband.

But Mugabe remained devoted to his wife, calling her my Grace in his last press conference and demanding better treatment for his spouse from Zimbabwes new rulers.

Timeline

Robert Mugabe

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Mugabe is born in what was then British-ruled Southern Rhodesia. He is educated at Catholic schools and attends South Africa’s University of Fort Hare. During the 1940s and 50s he teaches in Zambia and Ghana, where he is influenced by African independence movement leaders.

After campaigning for Zimbabwe’s independence, he is imprisoned for political agitation. While incarcerated, he earns two law degrees from the University of London.

Released from prison, he escapes to Mozambique where Zimbabwe African National Union guerrilla fighters elect him to lead their struggle against white minority rule.

Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party wins independent Zimbabwe’s first election and he takes office as prime minister.

Mugabe deploys North Korean-trained troops to crush an insurgency by former guerrillas loyal to his liberation war rival Joshua Nkomo. Government forces are accused of involvement in the killing of 20,000 civilians, which Mugabe denies.

Mugabe becomes president with sweeping executive powers after changes to the constitution and signs a unity pact with Nkomo, who becomes one of his two deputies. In 1990, Zanu-PF and Mugabe win further parliamentary and presidential elections.

An economic crisis marked by high interest rates and inflation sparks riots.

Zimbabweans reject a new constitution in a referendum, Mugabe’s first defeat at the ballot box. Thousands of independence war veterans and their allies, backed by the government, seize white-owned farms, saying the land was illegally appropriated by white settlers.

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The US puts a financial freeze on Mugabe’s government in response to land seizures, beginning a wave of sanctions against his regime.

Mugabe wins a disputed presidential vote, which observers condemn as flawed.Zimbabwe is suspended from the British Commonwealth over accusations of human rights abuses and economic mismanagement.

Hyperinflation reaches 500bn per cent, forcing millions of people to leave the country.Mugabe loses a presidential vote but wins the run-off after opponent Morgan Tsvangirai withdraws, citing violence against his supporters. A power-sharing agreement is signed.

Despite reports saying Mugabe has been seriously ill with cancer, he wins another disputed presidential vote. Western observers cite multiple accounts of electoral fraud.

After protesters stage the biggest show of defiance against Mugabe in a decade, he is forced to resign following an army coup and is replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mugabe dies aged 95.

After his fall, Mugabe was granted the status of a respected father of the nation and a generous pension by the new government. The move angered his many opponents and upset many victims of his regime.

But Mugabes own frustration and humiliation over his ousting were clear, and voiced with typical rhetorical force at an extraordinary press conference in the grounds of his residence in Harare days before elections in July 2018.

Mugabe, flanked by his wife, suggested he would vote for the opposition MDC, a party he had brutally suppressed before co-opting it in 2008 to form a supposed unity government that he still dominated.

Mugabe,
Mugabe, left, with George Silundika and Joshua Nkomo in Tanzania in the 1960s. Photograph: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Educated at Catholic missionary schools, Mugabe became a teacher in Ghana then returned to Rhodesia in 1960 to fight white minority rule.

Eventually freedom was won and Mugabe promised to embrace the countrys white population. He led the country through a golden period of economic growth and educational development that was the envy of Africa.

The international community turned a blind eye, however, to human rights abuses, most notably the 1980s ethnic cleansing of at least 20,000 people in Matabeleland province.

Original Article : HERE ;

This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific

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