Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe passes away at 95

New Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Sep 06, 2019, 11:41 AM IST
main img

File photo. Photograph:(WION)

Story highlights

Once hailed as a model African democrat, Mugabe had clung to power for years despite a worsening political and economic crisis that critics blame on his policies.

Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe passed away on Friday at the age of 95 after battling ill-health. 

Mugabe died in Singapore, where he has often received medical treatment in recent years, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

"It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe," a post on Mnangagwa's official presidential Twitter account said.

In November, Mnangagwa said Mugabe was no longer able to walk when he had been admitted to a hospital in Singapore, without saying what treatment Mugabe had been undergoing.

Officials often said he was being treated for a cataract, denying frequent private media reports that he had prostate cancer.

Mugabe, who ruled the southern African nation for nearly four decades since independence from Britain in 1980, was forced to resign in November 2017 after an army coup.

Once hailed as a model African democrat, Mugabe had clung to power for years despite a worsening political and economic crisis that critics blame on his policies.

Born in February 1924 on the Kutama Mission, northwest of Harare, Mugabe was educated by Jesuits. He earned seven university degrees, three while in prison. 

Mugabe was jailed for 10 years in 1964 for opposing white minority rule. A guerrilla war began in 1972 against Ian Smith’s white government of then-Rhodesia. He became leader of the ZANU liberation movement in the mid-1970s after his release from jail.

The renamed ZANU-PF won independence elections in 1980 and Mugabe became prime minister. He took office as president in 1987 after a change in the constitution.

In 2000, Mugabe tasted defeat when voters in a referendum rejected a constitution that would have given him more power. He turned on the small white minority, blaming them.

Mugabe pushed legislation through parliament allowing his government to seize white-owned farms. Self-styled war veterans occupied many other farms, often using violence.

His party lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in the March 2008 elections.

Mugabe, who held power since independence from British colonial rule in 1980, presided over Zimbabwe's decline from a regional power with huge potential, to a ruined country from which millions fled.

Many hoped his fall would mark a new era for the country and a re-birth of its economy, but Chihota says business at his plastic manufacturing firm is at its slowest since he started eight years ago.

In 2017, when Mugabe reached the age of 93, a long-brewing succession battle burst into the open.

The election result was also engulfed by accusations of fraud and opposition supporters and activists have since complained about constant harassment.

Mnangagwa, who secured his hold on power by winning disputed elections in July, 2018, had pledged to revive the economy, attract foreign investment, and create jobs.

(Inputs from Reuters, AFP)