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The world mourns Robert Gabriel Mugabe: Praise, pillory and pain


Back home in Zimbabwe, the biggest news for the week is the death on Friday dawn of former president Robert Mugabe who died Friday morning aged 95.

He passed on in Singapore where he was receiving medical attention. The first official news of his death was via a tweet from current president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa who took over from Mugabe after a November 2017 coup praised his former boss and “founding father” of post-independence Zimbabwe.

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

“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,” his tweet read.

The president is one of others who praised Mugabe for his influence at home in the wider African region and the world at large.

But many others could only point at the ills that Mugabe and the regime he presided over meted to citizens. From the incidents of political clampdown through to the economic crisis that his policies plunged the country into.

Several African presidents have sent their condolences to the government and people of Zimbabwe. From Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa etc. leaders have praised the legacy of one of Africa’s most divisive politicians.

“On behalf of the Federal Government, President Muhammadu Buhari sends condolences to the government and people of Zimbabwe over the passing of the founding father and former President, Robert Mugabe, 95.

The President commiserates with family members, friends and political associates of the political activist who fought for the independence of the country from colonial rule, and lived most of his life in public service,” aide to President Buhari said.

“We will forever remember the worthy son of Africa, who came to our rescue when our country was victim of a foreign aggressor. The continent has lost one of its pan-African leaders, a hero of independence,” words of DRC’s ex leader Joseph Kabila.

African presidents reactions on Twitter:

Mugabe had been receiving medical care in a Singapore hospital for an undisclosed ailment. It is reported that he had been receiving treatment there since April.

Local media reported that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had told a Cabinet meeting two weeks ago that doctors had “taken him off life support.” Mugabe had led Zimbabwe in 1980 before being ousted from power after a military coup in 2017.

For close to the four decades he governed after the country’s independence from Britain in 1980, he was regarded by many as a tyrant, he was accused of rigging polls and overseeing the free fall of the economy in the relentless pursuit of power.

Critical reactions:

Pain and tears:

His youngest son, Cahtunga, reacted to his father’s loss with emojis of a crying face on social media platform Twitter. His former information minister, Jonathan Moyo said a dark cloud had enveloped the nation.

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