PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has mourned Zimbabwe’s first executive President, Robert Gabrial Mugabe, who has passed away in Singapore.
“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,” President Mnangagwa announced on his official Twitter page.
The late President Robert Mugabe was 95 years old, and had been in and out of hospital for years. He was removed from power in November 2017 by the military and replaced with President Mnangagwa.
After leading Zimbabwe to independence in 1980, President Mnangagwa became a darling of the West when he preached reconciliation and integrated the armies of former colonialists into and the revolutionary ZANLA and ZIPRA armies.
However, the relationship with the West broke down irretrievably when in 1999, his Zanu-PF party sanctioned the invasion of white-held farms instigated by Chief Svosve. President Mugabe and his inner circle were slapped with sanctions by the United States and the European Union, but remained unyielding on the issue of land reform.
President Mugabe survived the hyperinflation and economic turmoil that followed in the decade leading to 2009. He then formed an inclusive government with his fierce rival and critic, the now late Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition MDC.
In 2016, the economic turmoil had returned again, and Zimbabweans led by cleric-cum-politician Pastor Evan Mawarire launched crippling strikes and stayaways which were heeded even by the civil servants.
The government of President Mugabe managed to crush the protests and held on for slightly over a year, before his own army led by General Constantino Chiwenga put him under house arrest.
This was after factional fights in the ruling party saw Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa fleeing the country after having been fired from the party and government.
Within two weeks, the ruling Zanu-PF in collusion with the opposition MDC forced Mugabe to resign after threatening to impeach him. Emmerson Mnangagwa was then installed as President.