Robert Mugabe, who became the first prime minister and later president of the independent Republic of Zimbabwe has died in Singapore at the age of 95.
His death was confirmed by his family and announced by his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former president, Cde Robert Mugabe,” Mnangagwa posted on his twitter on Friday.
“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.” He added.
Mr. Mugabe had spent several months receiving treatment in Singapore for an undisclosed illness.
Until November 2017, Mugabe was the only leader his country had known since they gained independence from Britain in 1980. He was also the world’s oldest head of state at the time of his overthrow (93 years).
Before he was toppled, Mugabe just like many other African leaders who liberated their countries believed that he would rule Zimbabwe for life. In 2016, while giving a speech before the African Union, he infamously said he would remain in power “until God says, ‘Come.’”
Mr. Mugabe had indicated that he was interested in running again in presidential elections in 2018 during an interview with state-run television on his 93rd birthday in February 2017.
“They want me to stand for elections; they want me to stand for elections everywhere in the party,” he said. “The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement, successor, who to them is acceptable, as acceptable as I am.”
“The people, you know, would want to judge everyone else on the basis of President Mugabe as the criteria,” he added.
However, Mr. Mugabe’s dreams of life presidency did not materialize as he was forced out of power in November 2017 by his own army after anticipating that he was grooming his wife Grace to succeed him.
After forcing him out of power, Mugabe was placed under house arrest and he was consequently forced to step down by his political party, ZANU-PF.
Shortly after his, demise, the military officers took control of the state broadcaster to announce their action insisting that the move did not amount to a coup though it had traces of one. Armored vehicles could be seen patrolling all the streets in the capital Harare.
Mr. Mnangagwa who was Mr. Mugabe’s longstanding aide took over from him and described him as “one of the founding fathers and leaders of our nation”, during his presidential inauguration in November 2017. He added that to him, Mr. Mugabe “remains a father, mentor, comrade in arms and my leader.”
Towards his final years in power, Mr. Mugabe oversaw a shattered economy and an ill political climate and a country full of disgruntled people over his leadership. All these factors worked together to contribute to his downfall.
Despite all the loopholes in his leadership that were always strongly criticized by the West, He was always considered as an elder statesman and African nationalist in many corners of Africa.
Mr. Mugabe was born on February 21 1924 to Catholic parents at Kutama Mission northwest of the Harare. As a young man, he liked learning and could carry a book even when going to attend to cattle in the bush.
He became a schoolteacher at the age of 17 and later he joined University in South Africa where he found many other Pan-Africanists who were future leaders.
After his university education, Mr. Mugabe worked briefly in Ghana as a teacher before he went to start a guerilla movement that start launching attacks to the colonial government in Rhodesia basing in Mozambique.