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African anti-colonial ‘champion’ who ‘stayed too long’: World reacts to Mugabe’s death

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Reactions to Robert Mugabe’s death on Friday began pouring in shortly after Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the passing of the former anti-colonial resistance hero, who held power in post-colonial Zimbabwe for over three decades.

In a Twitter post announcing Mugabe’s death on Friday morning, Mnangagwa called his predecessor “an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people.

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But while most African leaders have hailed Mugabe’s contribution to Zimbabwe’s fight against colonialism, his post-colonial track record drew mixed reactions.

Here are some of the reactions from Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

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“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 brutalised and violated
Zimbabwe as punishment for supporting our own struggle.

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“Many Zimbabweans paid with their lives so that we could be free. We will never forget or dishonour this sacrifice and solidarity.”

Spokeswoman for British PM Boris Johnson

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“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.”

Zimbabwean opposition Senator David Coltart

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“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, head of Zimbabwe’s main opposition MDC party

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“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 recognise his contribution made during his lifetime
as a nation’s founding President.”

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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.”

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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.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

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“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

“He started very well, stayed too long and ended tragically. An African hero all the same…”

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