Robert Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS
Robert Mugabe. Picture: REUTERS

President Cyril Ramaphosa, on behalf of the government and SA, sent condolences on the death of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. 

Mugabe, who was both vilified and praised during his lifetime, died in Singapore at the age of 95.

In November 2017, Mugabe was forced to resign after his own party, Zanu-PF started impeachment proceedings against him. This was after an attempted coup. 

“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,” Ramaphosa said on Friday. 

“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 SA too would be free.” 

Ramaphosa said during the struggle against apartheid, Zimbabwe's liberation movement supported SA's fight for freedom. 

“Many Zimbabweans paid with their lives so that we could be free. We will never forget or dishonour this sacrifice and solidarity,” he said. 

Ramaphosa acknowledged the role Mugabe played in advancing regional solidarity, integration and development through Zimbabwe’s participation in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).

The ANC said on Friday it was mourning Mugabe's passing.

"The life of comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe came to epitomise the 'new African' — who, having shrugged off the colonial yoke, would strive to ensure his country took its rightful place among the community of nations: firmly in charge of its own destiny,” ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said. 

“Comrade Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF has, over the years, been a long-standing friend and supporter of the ANC, from the exile years through to democracy. Our fraternal relations, grounded in the mutual aspirations of human rights, political dignity and social justice have endured over the years,” he said.

Magashule said that although the ANC and its leadership may have differed, often vociferously, with Mugabe on matters of national interest, as fraternal organisations they held as sacrosanct the principle of sovereignty.

“History alone will be the decider over whether the courses of action taken by leaders in the interests of their countrymen, were the correct ones,” he said.

The ANC sent condolences to the Mugabe family and Zanu-PF.

“We mourn with you the passing of our friend, statesman, leader, revolutionary,” Magashule said.

More reaction

The DA sent condolences to Mugabe's family and loved ones. 

The party said Mugabe would be remembered for his conflicting legacy as a liberator towards independence and an oppressor of the democratic values he once fought for.

“President Mugabe oversaw the rise of Zimbabwe as an independent and prosperous republic but he also oversaw the decline of Zimbabwe into a tyrannical dictatorship which violently repressed opposition and brutalised civilians,” DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said. 

He said the people of Zimbabwe had suffered a great deal because of the decline. 

“It is the DA's hope that Zimbabwe will one day shine again as the jewel of this continent and that her people will finally be governed by fair democratic principles, which enshrine the protection of human rights, including the right to freedom of speech and expression, without fear of coercive violence at the hands of those in power,” Malatsi said. 

The IFP remembered Mugabe for the support he gave to SA's liberation struggle. 

IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said Mugabe's death would be a significant moment in world history. 

“Knowing that Dr Mugabe played a central role in the political liberation of his country, and also knowing that no man is without sin, we pay tribute to the former president,” he said. 

The EFF said SA owed a lot of its own democratic freedoms to Mugabe.

“He led his struggle with with distinction and selflessness," the party said. "On his passing, we remember against forgetting, that under his leadership the Zimbabwean land reform programme was suspended so as to allow SA to peacefully make the transition to democracy.”

Former president Thabo Mbeki said he would always remember and pay tribute to Mugabe as an outstanding fighter for the liberation not only of the people of Zimbabwe but all other colonially and racially oppressed people.

Mbeki had stayed in contact with Mugabe over the past few months while he was receiving treatment in Singapore.

"Africa as a whole will also always remember him as a principled, steadfast and courageous pan-Africanist. In that capacity he stood out as a great defender of African interests, always determined to advance the cause of the true independence and the economic emancipation of our continent and all its constituent countries,” Mbeki said.

He sent his condolences to the Mugabe family as well as the people and government of Zimbabwe, adding that his country had lost a father of the nation.

“As Africans we have lost an eminent leader of our victorious struggle for national liberation,” Mbeki said.