Hero turned tyrant: international reaction to Mugabes death

Praise and criticism around the world reflect Zimbabwean former presidents mixed legacy

Robert Mugabe, the guerrilla leader who led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980, has died aged 95. Though once widely celebrated for his role in fighting the white supremacist regime in his homeland, Mugabe had long become a deeply divisive figure. His final years in power were characterised by financial collapse and surges of violent intimidation. Reactions to his death reflect his mixed legacy:


Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Mugabe after he was ousted in 2017, said:


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Cde [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.

Nelson Chamisa, leader of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democractic Change, said:

Even though I and our party, the MDC, and the Zimbabwean people had great political differences with the late former president during his tenure in office, and disagreed for decades, we recognise his contribution made during his lifetime as a nations founding president.

Tendai Biti, an opposition politician and former finance minister, said:

We have to acknowledge the role he played in the liberation of our country, but also the massive destruction he caused too. He failed to make the transformation from a liberation leader to a national leader. The war did not end for him in 1979. He tortured me, and killed thousands and thousands of people, but I am not bitter. He was a product of his era.


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The opposition MDC politician David Coltart said:

Mugabe will be remembered for ending white minority rule [and] expanding quality education [but] One cannot just ignore the evil which occurred during his rule. The negative aspects of his legacy live on.

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The Kenyan-born former Labour MP and anti-apartheid campaigner Peter Hain, who grew up in apartheid South Africa, met Mugabe in 1999 when he was a foreign minister. He told BBC radio:

This is a tragic case study of someone who began as a widely admired freedom fighter, bringing his country from repressive racist white minority rule into the newly independent Zimbabwe in January 1980, winning a landslide that I welcomed and many anti-apartheid leaders around the world did, too. But then he went from that into an evil, repressive, corrupt dictator, which was tragic for his country and tragic for his own reputation.


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Lord Hain also described meeting Mugabe at a London hotel in November 1999, after relations between Zimbabwe and the then Labour government had deteriorated:

Saturday morning, he was about to go shopping with his wife Grace, and Peter Tatchell the gay rights activist performed a citizens arrest on him. I knew nothing about it; it was Peter Tatchells decision, a protest against Mugabes rampant homophobia. He [Mugabe] denounced me as Peter Tatchells wife, which was news to me, my wife and Peter Tatchell.

Peter Tatchell attempted a citizens arrest of Mugabe on charges of torture again in Brussels in 2001. During this attempt he was beaten unconscious by Mugabes henchmen, leaving him with brain and eye damage:

Robert Mugabe was a liberation hero turned tyrant The world had so much hope for the freedom fighter who suffered imprisonment and later rose to power on a promise to build a new, democratic, non-racial Zimbabwe. But the truth is that he betrayed it all for a repressive, dictatorial, self-serving regime that boosted his personal wealth while impoverishing his own people.

South Africa

The president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said:

Under President Mugabes leadership, Zimbabwes 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.

During the decades of our own struggle, Zimbabwes liberation movement supported our own liberation movement Many Zimbabweans paid with their lives so that we could be free. We will never forget or dishonour this sacrifice and solidarity.

The opposition leader Julius Malema said:

Im saddened by the passing of our martyr and giant of the African revolution.


Geng Shuang, a foreign ministry spokesman, said:

Mugabe was an outstanding national liberation movement leader and politician of Zimbabwe. Throughout his life, he has firmly defended the sovereignty of his country, opposed foreign interference, and actively promoted China-Zimbabwe and China-Africa friendship and cooperation.

Original Article : HERE ;

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