Former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, who was known for his authoritarian leadership, passed away at the age of 95 on Fri (6 Sep).
Current president Emmerson Mnangagwa tweeted: “It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President… Robert Mugabe.”
“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,” added Mnangagwa.
AFP reported that no further details were immediately available about the circumstances of his death, or where he died.
However, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Mugabe passed away in Singapore, where he has received medical treatment on a regular basis in recent years.
Earlier this year, Mnangagwa revealed that Mugabe was hospitalised in Singapore for months for an undisclosed ailment, and was unable to walk at the time of his hospitalisation.
Reuters reported that while Zimbabwean officials said that Mugabe was being treated for a cataract, private media reports alleged that he was suffering from prostate cancer.
Mugabe’s presidency lasted for 37 years from 1980 to 2017, and was purportedly rife with human rights violations and rigged elections.
While Mugabe purportedly remains a political hero among many in Africa as a figure who had liberated Zimbabwe from British colonial rule – Zimbabwe was previously known as Rhodesia – Mugabe was then widely criticised for stamping down on political dissent and implementing policies that were detrimental to Zimbabwe’s economy.
AFP observed that the land reform policy that was meant to pacify “angry war veterans who threatened to destabilise his rule” had “wrecked the crucial agricultural sector”, which in turn “caused foreign investors to flee and helped plunge the country into economic misery”.