Robert Mugabe, former president of Zimbabwe, dead at 95

Robert Mugabe who led Zimbabwe from the end of its colonial period until 2017 has died aged 95.

The former leader had spent the last several months of his life in a Singaporean hospital. He was overthrown by the army in 2017 ending his decades long run as the leader of the African nation.

Mugabe became the nation’s first Prime Minister in 1980, he later created the position of President which he held for decades stamping out any political opposition. His early years were remembered for broadening access to healthcare and education but his reign also include human rights abuses and claims of corruption.

Gay and Lesbian people were often threatened under his leadership and homosexuality remained illegal. President Mugabe had a long history of making anti-gay statements comparing LGBT people to dogs and pigs, and threatening to “cut off the heads” of any gay people he discovered.

In 2014 he threatened any foreign diplomats in the country with expulsion if he discovered they were gay. The previous year he suggested LGBTI people should be locked in a room to see if they could procreate, before saying those who failed should be locked up.

LGBTI rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said history would remember Mugabe as a homophobic tyrant.

“Robert Mugabe will go down in history as one of the most homophobic leaders in modern times. He demonised the LGBT+ community, banned LGBT+ events and fuelled anti-LGBT+ prejudice, discrimination and hate crime.” Tatchell said.

“Robert Mugabe was a liberation hero turned tyrant. He killed more black Africans than the evil apartheid regime in South Africa. His massacre of up to 20,000 people in Matabeleland in the 1980s was the equivalent of a Sharpeville massacre every day for nine months”

Tatchell twice attempted a citizen’s arrest of President Mugabe on charges of torture – in 1999 in London and again in Brussels in 2001. During the latter attempt he was beaten unconscious by Mugabe’s henchmen, leaving him with brain and eye damage.

“The world had so much hope for the freedom fighter who suffered imprisonment and later rose to power on a promise to build a new, democratic, non-racial Zimbabwe. But the truth is that he betrayed it all for a repressive, dictatorial, self-serving regime that boosted his personal wealth while impoverishing his own people.”

“He fell well short of the moral stature and accomplishments of Nelson Mandela; becoming a megalomaniac, power-hungry leader who subjugated his own people while purporting to be emancipating them,” Tatchell said.

While Mugabe started his rule proclaiming liberation would lead to new freedoms for Zimbabweans, today the country is left with 80% unemployment, periods of famine, unreliable power supplies, and acute shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

OIP Staff

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