The world reacts to former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabes death
World leaders have paid tribute to former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe who died this morning – but others have reflected on his controversial legacy.
Former Africa minister and anti-apartheid campaigner Lord Hain said the ruler turned from being a brave liberation hero into a ruthless dictator who squandered Zimbabwes potential.
He said his legacy will be very two-sided, with the early promise of his leadership outweighed by the corrupt, repressive, dictatorial approach he adopted.
Mugabe ruled Zimbabe with an iron fist for almost 40 years before he was over thrown in a military coup in 2017.
He died aged 95 at a hospital in Singapore – triggering a mixed reaction from around the world.
Mugabe brought independence to Zimbabwe and then killed in the Gukurahundi-up to 80,000 of his own citizens in Matabeleland and brought his country to its knees economically. A hero to a brutal dictator
— Kate Hoey (@KateHoeyMP) September 6, 2019
To his supporters, he is remembered as a revolutionary hero who helped free Zimbabwe from colonialism and minority white rule.
But his record in government is one of economic mismanagement, widespread corruption, anti-white racism and widespread human rights abuses.
A liberation hero turned dictator
Hain, a Labour Peer, said Mugabe was a tragic case study of a liberation hero who then betrayed every one of the values of the freedom struggle.
Commenting on his two-sided legacy, he reflected on the leaders promise to build a new, non-racial Zimbabwe which brought all races together following a landslide election in 1980.
Mugabe, who suffered imprisonment and torture under Ian smiths white-minority rule in what was then known as Rhodesia, was the nations first post-independence leader.
While in jail, he was chosen as president of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), of which he was a founding father.
Hain said the moment he was elected will be a positive memory for those who suffered under almost 100 years of British colonial rule.
But he said the overwhelming memory would be a negative one – pointing to his ruthless take down of opponents and treatment of white farmers.
Expressing similar sentiments, Labours shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said that shes not going to shed any tears over Mugabes death
Speaking on the BBCs Radio 4 she said: Im not going to shed any tears Im afraid for the death of Mugabe. He took over the country when it had such promise and we were all so hopeful. In fact, we were hopeful about him, but he completely lost his way and I think ruined the chance of a country that did have a great future.
Mugabe's divisive legacy
In 2000 Mugabe led a campaign to evict white farmers off their land. The Fast track land reform was meant to redistribute land from wealthy white farmers to black Zimbabweans who had suffered under minority rule, but the vast majority was given to the dictators henchmen and political supporters, leading to famine.
White Zimbabweans had no citizenship rights to settle anywhere else in the world and lived in mortal fear of being murdered by members of Mugabes regime.
Under his leadership, the economy of the mineral-rich country descended into chaos with thousands of people reduced to grinding poverty and near-starvation.
Political dissent was brutally quashed and enemies were accused of homosexuality and thrown into jail.
Stratospheric inflation happened in 2008 and 2009 after the states central bank printed so much of its currency that a loaf of bread would often cost millions of Zimbabwean dollars.
The economic collapse saw over 3.1 million Zimbabweans leave the country.
In August 2016, the mega demonstration took place which saw the countrys split opposition join together to confront the dictator. Those involved were met with water cannons, police batons and tear gas.
At the time people were suffering under country wide food shortages, exasperated by severe drought and tough weather conditions.
In November the following year, his 37-year-rule was brought to a dramatic end following a military takeover, political revolt, house arrest and the threat of impeachment, when he finally resigned.
Months before, he had threatened a new round of land seizures from Zimbabwes white farmers.
However, others around the world remember his contribution to African history.
Icon of Liberation
Mugabe was an outspoken critic of the West – most notably the UK – and he denounced the former colonial power as an enemy country.