President Muhammadu Buhari, his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Tanzanian President, John Magufuli, among others yesterday condoled with President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe over the death of its first postindependence leader, Robert Mugabe, at the age of 95. Other world leaders who joined in the condolence greetings include Namibian President Hage Geingob, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Secretary General, Botswana Democratic Party, Mpho Balopi, China’s foreign ministry and UK prime minister’s spokeswoman. Similarly, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, in a statement signed by his Special Assistant (Media), Kehinde Akinyemi, said: “President Mugabe was, without doubt, one of the greatest African freedom fighters to have walked on the African soil.
This he did with his colleague and brother, Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, leading to the formation of the Patriotic Front for which Nigeria took a vanguard position.” Reports by BBC, Reuters/ NAN revealed that Mugabe, according to Mnangagwa, in his official Twitter account, had died in Singapore, where he had often received medical treatments in recent years. Mugabe, who was born on February 21, 1924, in what was then Rhodesia, was imprisoned for more than a decade without trial after criticising the government of Rhodesia in 1964.
The former president, who is survived by his children and his wife, Grace, had been regularly seeking medical treatments in Singapore during his 37 years in power and since being deposed in a 2017 coup and replaced by former deputy, Mnangagwa. Speaking while announcing the death of Mugabe, whom he praised as an “icon of liberation,” Mnangagwa said: “His (Mugabe contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
On his part, Buhari commiserated with the family members, friends and political associates of the late political activist, who fought for the independence of Zimbabwe from colonial rule, and lived most of his life in public service.
Buhari said he believed that Mugabe’s sacrifices, especially in struggling for the political and economic emancipation of his people, will always be remembered by posterity. Commenting, Ramaphosa said: “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.”
Kenyatta said: “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 African continent.” Geingob said: “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.” Magufuli added: “Africa has lost one of its bravest and Pan-Africanist leaders, who led by example in opposing colonialism.” Reacting, Putin said: “The people of Russia will remember him as a consistent advocate of developing friendly relations between our countries and a person who had accomplished a great deal to strengthen mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation.” Balopi also said: “The history of our respective parties’ fraternal relations would be incomplete without mention of Uncle Bob, as he was affectionately known. It is beyond any doubt that he leaves an indelible mark on the politics of the region.”