(Reuters) – Robert Mugabe, the bush war guerrilla leader who led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980 and crushed his foes during nearly four decades of rule as his country descended into poverty, hyperinflation and unrest, died on Friday aged 95.
FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe looks on before casting his vote in Highfields outside Harare July 31, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo
Following are reactions to his death from Zimbabwe and around the world.
ZIMBABWE PRESIDENT EMMERSON MNANGAGWA, ON TWITTER
“Cde (Comrade) 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.”
SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA
“South Africans join the people and government of Zimbabwe in mourning the passing of a liberation fighter and champion of Africa’s cause against colonialism.
“Under President Mugabe’s leadership, Zimbabwe’s sustained and valiant struggle against colonialism inspired our own struggle against apartheid and built in us the hope that one day South Africa too would be free.
“During the decades of our own struggle, Zimbabwe’s liberation movement supported our own liberation movement to fight oppression on multiple fronts. After Zimbabwe achieved independence, the apartheid state brutalized and violated Zimbabwe as punishment for supporting our own struggle.
“Many Zimbabweans paid with their lives so that we could be free. We will never forget or dishonor this sacrifice and solidarity.”
SPOKESWOMAN FOR BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER OF FORMER COLONIAL POWER BRITAIN
“There will be mixed emotions in Zimbabwe at today’s news. We of course express our condolences to those who mourn but know that for many he was a barrier to a better future. Under his rule the people of Zimbabwe suffered greatly as he impoverished their country and sanctioned the use of violence against them.
“His resignation in 2017 marked a turning point and we hope that today marks another which allows Zimbabwe to move on from the legacy of its past and become a democratic, prosperous nation that respects the human rights of its citizens.”
HARARE RESIDENT ONWELL SAMUKANYA
“He was an icon, he was an African legend. His only mistake was that he overstayed in power. You can’t have somebody that’s 89 and 90 still being the president, you have to give others a chance.”
ZIMBABWEAN OPPOSITION SENATOR AND RIGHTS LAWYER DAVID COLTART, ON TWITTER
“He was a colossus on the Zimbabwean stage & his enduring positive legacy will be his role in ending white minority rule & expanding a quality education to all Zimbabweans.”
NELSON CHAMISA, LEADER OF ZIMBABWE’S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY THE MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE, ON TWITTER
“My condolences to the Mugabe family and Africa for the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding President. This is a dark moment for the family because a giant among them has fallen. May the lord comfort them.
“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 recognize his contribution made during his lifetime as a nation’s founding President.
“There’s so much to say for a life of 95 years and national leadership spanning over 37 years but in the true spirit of Ubuntu, we would like to give this moment to mourning but there will be time for greater reflection.”
JULIUS MALEMA, LEADER OF RADICAL LEFT SOUTH AFRICAN OPPOSITION PARTY THE ECONOMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS, ON TWITTER
“I’m saddened by the passing of our martyr & giant of the African Revolution (comrade) President Robert Mugabe. Let’s continue to fight & protect his legacy. We must not allow our enemies to tell us how to remember him; we know our heroes.
“May his soul rest in revolutionary peace.”
NAMIBIAN PRESIDENT HAGE GEINGOB
“As Namibians, we owe President Mugabe a deep sense of gratitude for his immense and selfless contributions to the liberation of our country … The loss of the people of Zimbabwe is Africa’s loss.
CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN GENG SHUANG
Geng said Mugabe was an outstanding liberation movement leader and statesman for Zimbabwe who had defended his country’s independence, opposed foreign interference and promoted good cooperation with China.
“We are deeply saddened by his passing and express sincere sympathies to the Zimbabwean people, government and to Mr. Mugabe’s family.”
HARARE RESIDENT SELLINA MUGADZA
“He was a good leader. He was a good leader. Of course we know that you cannot do good to everyone, but to me he was good.”
KENYAN PRESIDENT UHURU KENYATTA
“In this moment of sorrow, my thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his relatives and the people of Zimbabwe who, for many years, he served with commitment and dedication.
“Words cannot convey the magnitude of the loss as former President Mugabe was an elder statesman, a freedom fighter and a Pan-Africanist who played a major role in shaping the interests of the continent … a man of courage who was never afraid to fight for what he believed in even when it was not popular.”
TANZANIAN PRESIDENT JOHN MAGUFULI
“Africa has lost one of its bravest and Pan-Africanist leaders, who led by example in opposing colonialism.”
ZIMBABWEAN DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION ENERGY MUTODI, ON TWITTER
“Rest in Peace President Robert Mugabe. There is no doubt you were an African icon, a statesman of a rare character and a revolutionary.”
MPHO BALOPI, SECRETARY GENERAL, BOTSWANA DEMOCRATIC PARTY
“Cde Mugabe was one of Africa’s most renowned freedom fighters and also one of the founding fathers of what is today known as SADC (the intergovernmental Southern African Development Community, whose headquarters are in Botswana).
“The history of our respective parties’ fraternal relations would be incomplete without mention of Uncle Bob, as he was affectionately known. It is beyond any doubt that he leaves an indelible mark on the politics of the region.”
ZAMBIAN PRESIDENT EDGAR LUNGU
“I am saddened at the passing of a Pan-Africanist, Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe.
“He will be remembered for his fight for Africa’s liberation and standing up to fearlessly defend a continent he loved … His place in the annals of Africa’s political history is well assured.”
NIGERIAN PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
“The President commiserates with family members, friends and political associates of the political activist who fought for the independence of the country from colonial rule, and lived most of his life in public service.
“President Buhari believes Mugabe’s sacrifices, especially in struggling for the political and economic emancipation of his people, will always be remembered by posterity.”
NASIR AHMAD EL-RUFAI, GOVERNOR OF NIGERIA’S KADUNA STATE, ON TWITTER
“He started very well, stayed too long and ended tragically. An African hero all the same…”
Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Editing by Catherine Evans