Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s strongman leader of 37 years who presided over the collapse of what was one of Africa’s most promising post-independence states, has died.
Mugabe, a hero of southern Africa’s liberation struggle and the country’s founder who became the villain as he rigged votes and crushed dissent to stay in power, was 95.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe after his own ruling Zanu-PF betrayed him in a 2017 coup, confirmed death on Friday.
Mugabe had been receiving treatment in a Singapore hospital since April.
“His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten,” Mr Mnangagwa said. He called his mentor “an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people”.
Mugabe leaves behind a country that is battling a severe economic crisis including food shortages and the worst currency chaos since hyperinflation in 2008 that was one of the most glaring examples of his misrule.
The economy also remains scarred by the land seizures from white farmers that he ordered in the 2000s, and the looting of billions of dollars from state coffers by his family and cronies.
Many hoped Mr Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former right-hand man, would lead the country into reform and genuine democracy.
But he has increasingly returned to Mugabe’s methods of rule including brutal suppression of protests.