Dutch FM has "mixed feelings" about fmr. Zimbabwean president's death at age 95
Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, died at age 95 on Friday, the current president Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed on Twitter. Dutch Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs remembers Mugabe with "very mixed feelings", he said in a response. Mugabe played a major role in the independence of Zimbabwe, Blok said. But then he was also responsible for a "very questionable human rights regime", Dagblad van het Noorden reports.
"It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President, Robert Mugabe", President Mnangagwa said on Twitter. "Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May he rest in eternal peace."
Mugabe was one of Africa's longest-serving heads of state. He came into power as Prime Minister in 1980 after winning the first free elections in Zimbabwe, NOS and NU.nl report. Seven years later, he demolished the post of Prime Minister and appointed himself president, a position he held until 2017.
Mugabe was considered a freedom fighter and hero, because he played a big role in the fight against the British colonialists that ruled what was then called Rhodesia. But in the years that followed, he lost the credit he received for that as he developed into a ruthless dictator.
In the 1980s Mugabe, who was a Shona - the largest ethnic group in Zimbabwe, organized a slaughter among the Ndebele and repeatedly blamed the white colonials for the murders, according to NOS. In the year 2000, he took land from white farmers and gave it to his supporters. This resulted in agriculture in the country collapsing, the Zimbabwean dollar becoming worthless, and the unemployment rate skyrocketing to over 90 percent. Millions of Zimbabweans fled the country.
Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe with a hard hand. He did not shun violence against his own people to maintain power. He won many elections, but they were rarely free from fraud and intimidation. In 2017 a military coup put an end to his 37-year rule.
Over the past years, Mugabe lived a reclusive life in his villa on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. He was rarely seen in public these past few months. The former president had been ill since April. He died in hospital in Singapore, where he received regular medical treatment in recent years.