Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, died at the age of 95. Mugabe died after an illness, confirmed his family to the British broadcaster.
“It is with great sorrow that I announce the death of the founding father of Zimbabwe and former president, Robert Mugabe,” said current president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mugabe died in Singapore. He has been going there regularly for medical treatments in recent years.
Mnangagwa called Mugabe an “icon of liberation,” who “devoted his life to emancipating and empowering his people.” “His contribution to the history of our country and continent will never be forgotten.”
Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924, in what was then called Southern Rhodesia. That was a British colony. In 1963 he founded the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). From 1964 Mugabe was imprisoned for ten years in a Rhodesian prison. Meanwhile, in 1965, white Prime Minister Ian Smith declared Rhodesia independent.
After his release, Mugabe started an armed fight against Smith: the black population demanded more control of the white government. Smith’s white minority regime collapsed after fourteen years of international pressure and isolation.
In 1980, Zimbabwe became a republic within the British Commonwealth, and Robert Mugabe became prime minister. He has held the post of the president since 1987.
Mugabe, as head of government, also included white ministers in his cabinet. The contrast with the apartheid regime in neighboring South Africa initially provided him with a lot of support and sympathy. In 1999, the leader faced increasingly strong opposition. It almost cost him his office when the voters massively rejected a constitutional amendment in 2000. With the help of fighters, loyal officers and election fraud, he managed to retain absolute power for a long time.
The incumbent president was the only candidate in the second round of the presidential election on June 2008. He could therefore again be sworn in as head of state. With intimidation and violence, Mugabe had sidelined the winner of the first round Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters.
The resignation of his deputy prime minister and later president Emmerson Mnangagwa heralded the end of his rule. With that, he scared the army and his party against him. In November 2017, the army placed Mugabe under house arrest and forced him to resign.
The former president had received treatment for an unspecified disease in Singapore since April this year. In August, Mnangagwa had told the country that Mugabe had been admitted to a foreign hospital, but that he was improving.