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Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe dies at 95
Zimbabwe's first post-independent leader Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95. Widely celebrated for leading the south African country to independence, Mugabe's decades-long rule was tainted by tyranny and corruption before he was forced out in a military coup in 2017.
“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former president, Cde Robert Mugabe,” his successor and Emmerson Mnangagwa tweeted on Friday.
It is believed Mugabe died in Singapore, where he had been a frequent visitor to receive medical care in recent months as his health has deteriorated following his humiliating fall from office in November 2017.
No further details were immediately available about the circumstances of his death, or where he died.
Mnangagwa described his predecessor as “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. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” he added.
Mugabe was a hero of Zimbabwe’s independence struggle and became the country’s leader in 1978.
Though once feted as an African liberation hero and champion of racial reconciliation, he had long become a deeply divisive figure in his own country and across the continent.
Many denounced him as a power-obsessed autocrat willing to unleash death squads, rig elections and trash the economy in the relentless pursuit of control.
Zimbabwe in ruin
The Mugabe years are widely remembered for his crushing of political dissent, and policies that ruined the economy.
After seizing political power, Mugabe soon focused his attention on taking control of the country’s economy from the white minority.
As the farms were seized - many of them violently and illegally, the country’s agricultural based economy collapsed, according to Andrew Meldrum, a former Observer newspaper correspondent for France 24.
The scheme was, according to Meldrum, Mugabe’s greatest blunder.
Zimbabwe’s economy never recovered, buffeted by a loss of investor confidence, debt, financial fraud and now drought.
Corruption monitoring group Transparency International estimates that Zimbabwe is losing at least $1 billion a year to graft. According to the World Bank, one fifth of the population lives in extreme poverty.