Robert Mugabe, the dictator who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980, has died in Singapore, aged 95. It is believed he had been receiving treatment for cancer there since April.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed his death on Twitter.“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe,” he tweeted.
“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.”s
First as Prime Minister and then as President, Mugabe’s rule was a reign of discord and terror for the fledgling African republic.
He presided over periods of hyperinflation and famine, persecuted opposition politicians and homosexuals and was widely regarded as having rigged multiple elections in an effort to hang on to power.
Although Mugabe was given multiple honours by Western nations during the 1980s and early 1990s — including an honorary Knighthood by the Queen — by the turn of the century his reputation was that of a despotic dictator, responsible for massive human rights abuses, including the seizure of lands owned by white farmers.
He was stripped of most of the honours he had previously earned, and in 2005, the White House listed Zimbabwe as one of six “outposts of tyranny”.
Mugabe was finally forced out of office by his own party in 2017 but secured immunity from all prosecution as part of his resignation.
Rumours of ill health have dogged Mugabe for several years.
In 2010 there were reports that he had prostate cancer, and in January 2014, further reports surfaced stating he had collapsed at the State House in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.
ROBERT MUGABE TIMELINE
1924 Born 21 February. Later educated at Marist and Jesuit schools.
1962-1959 Works as a teacher
1964-1974 Imprisoned for 10 years for his political activities
1974-1979 Released from prison; goes into exile in Mozambique, where he heads up the Zimbabwe African National Union — Patriotic Front (ZANU — PF)
1980 Elected first Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, representing the Zimbabwe African National Union — Patriotic Front (ZANU — PF)
1987 Abolishes position of Prime Minister; assumes title of President, previously a largely ceremonial role
1996 Marries his former secretary, Grace Marufu, 41 years his junior. It was Mugabe’s second marriage; his first wife died in 1992.
2000 Commences land acquisition program in Zimbabwe, driving white farmers off their lands.
2002 Wins another term in power thanks to another election widely discredited by foreign observers. Defeats opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
2003 Withdraws Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth
2005 As Zimbabwe grapples with rising inflation and food shortages, the White House lists the African nation as one of six “outposts of tyranny”.
2008 Mugabe wins another disputed election, but this time with much greater backlash both within Zimbabwe and internationally. Brokers a power-sharing deal with opposition leader Morgan Tsarivangi which enables him to hang on to the presidency
2013 Mugabe wins an extension to his 33-year rule in general elections, slammed as “a farce” by his rival. Local observers said the elections were fraught with irregularities but the constitutional court declared the elections “free, fair and credible”.
2014 In January, reports surface that Mugabe suffered a collapse in Harare.
2017 Mugabe forced from office after he moved to sack his Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
2019 Dies in Singapore
■ Culled from the Evening Times