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Zimbabwe's former leader Mugabe dies at 95

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-22 13:50:04|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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File photo taken on July 30, 2013 shows former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe answering a question at a press conference in Harare, Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95, mulitiple sources reported on Sept. 6, 2019. (Xinhua/Meng Chenguang)

HARARE, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's former leader Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95, multiple sources reported Friday.

"It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe," tweeted incumbent President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabweans from all walks of life mourned the former founding leader, whom they described as an "African icon."

Opposing MDC leader Nelson Chamisa paid tribute to the late leader, expressing condolences to the Mugabe family and Africa for the passing of Zimbabwe's founding President.

"This is a dark moment for the family because a giant among them has fallen," Chamisa said on Twitter.

MDC senior official David Coltart said Mugabe was a colossus on the Zimbabwean stage and his enduring positive legacy will be his role in ending white minority rule and expanding quality education to all Zimbabweans.

"A dark cloud has enveloped Zimbabwe and beyond. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away," tweeted his former ally and information minister Jonathan Moyo, currently living in exile after Mugabe resigned in 2017.

Former finance minister and ZANU-PF politburo member Patrick Chinamasa said Mugabe was an international icon who has left a rich legacy.

"We learnt a lot from him through the sacrifices he made for the liberation of our country and throughout his leadership from 1980 to 2017 when he resigned," said George Makomo, a security guard at a private firm in Harare.

Tinotenda Zhanje, a 20-year-old youth from Harare, also praised Mugabe for empowering the youths through education and other programs such as the land reform.

"While some may consider him a villain, I see him as someone who empowered us especially as the youths. He gave us a lot of education. As I was growing up, I never knew any other leader other than Mugabe and he is one of the most intelligent if not the best President Zimbabwe has ever had," said Zhanje.

Thirty-four year old technician Jason Gombero said Mugabe will remain his hero despite criticism by others.

"In as much as he is blamed by some people, there are things that we so much appreciate about him. To me, he is and will always remain my hero," Gombero said.

It is believed Mugabe had been receiving treatment in a hospital in Singapore since April.

Mugabe ruled the Southern African country for nearly four decades until he resigned in 2017. He was born on Feb. 21, 1924, in Kutama Mission, Zvimba. The late Mugabe started active politics in the 1960s when he founded the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in 1963 to fight British colonial rule.

After Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe became the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe until 1987 when he assumed the post of President of Zimbabwe, a position he held until he was ousted from power in 2017.

While he was described by his critics in and outside the country as a liberation war hero who later became a dictator, his contribution to the development of Zimbabwe before and after independence cannot be underestimated and erased from Zimbabwe's history.

He remained a hero among many Africans who saw him as a pan-Africanist and champion against neo-colonialism.

Soon after his resignation in 2017 following a military intervention, his party ZANU-PF paid tribute to him for his contribution to the development of Zimbabwe.

The party urged the people of Zimbabwe to "acknowledge that Mugabe did so much for the liberation of Zimbabwe and indeed as Prime Minister and President post-independence".

At independence, Mugabe came up with policies of education, health and housing for all and ensured that more schools and health institutions were built for the previously marginalized majority blacks.

Because of his education policy, Zimbabwe is considered to have the highest adult literacy rate in Africa.

He was also passionate about the land and ensured that formerly landless blacks were allocated land that had been in the hands of minority white commercial farmers.

However, the land reform program riled the West, which then imposed sanctions on the country at the turn of the millennium, resulting in the crumbling of Zimbabwe's economy.

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