ROBERT Mugabe’s death was Friday morning greeted with despair and delight with some describing him as a towering figure who transformed Zimbabwe into a force in African affairs while others condemned him as a tyrant and autocrat.
Mugabe who clung onto power by fostering factionalism within his ruling party before he was forced to resign via a soft coup has proved divisive in death as he was in life.
“Mugabe’s legacy is that of a liberator who sadly failed to liberate his own people from poverty and despair,” leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane said on twitter.
“I send my condolences to the family and loved ones of former President Robert Mugabe. May his soul rest in peace.”
Julius Malema, leader of South African political party Economic Freedom Fighters, said the vilification of Mugabe will not take away his role in demystifying white control over African land.
“I’m saddened by the passing of our martyr and giant of the African Revolution cde President Robert Mugabe. Let’s continue the fight and protect his legacy. We must not allow our enemies to tell us how to remember him; we know our heroes,” Malema said.
Zimbabwean lawyer David Coltart said it will take Zimbabwe many years to recover from Mugabe’s poisonous legacy while MDC leader Nelson Chamisa was indifferent over the passing of Mugabe.
“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 nation’s founding President,” Chamisa said.
He added there is a lot to say for a life of 95 years but in the true spirit of Ubuntu the MDC will give this moment to mourning “but there will be time for greater reflection.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa paid glowing tribute to Mugabe announcing that old age and illness had carried the former Zimbabwe leader away.
Mnangagwa appeared to confirm that the liberation war icon whose legacy was tainted by poor economic policies, gross human rights abuses, disputed elections and farm invasions would receive a hero’s burial.
“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 said.
After three decades dominating his country Mugabe was both feted around the world as icon, hero and inspiration, and condemned as tyrant and autocrat.
He clung onto power for 37 years often pitting his lieutenants one with the other in an almost flawless gamesmanship that stretched his years at the helm of country.
Peter Hain, Britain’s former Africa minister and anti-apartheid campaigner, called Mugabe “a tragic case study of a liberation hero who then betrayed every one of the values of the freedom struggle.”
Speaking to the Press Association, Hain said “on the one hand (he was a) brave liberation hero who suffered imprisonment and torture and whom anti-apartheid activists like myself at the time were thrilled to see elected … with a promise to build a new, non-racial Zimbabwe. That will be the positive memory.”
For decades many in Zimbabwe wished his death would be swift. Others prayed it would happen in their lifetime.
They thought in his passing the oppressive laws and economic policies that create plunder of resources will be extinguished.
But as news filtered through that Mugabe had drawn his last breath in Singapore — far away from the dilapidated health institutions his policies had fostered —there was a widespread feeling of indifference.
Forced out in November 2017, those who took over are struggling to provide the bare minimum. Salaries are stagnant. Prices of basic goods are skyrocketing. When he did finally breath his last some wished he had lived on. If anything, Mugabe remains as devise in death as he was in life.