Zimbabwe Ex-President Robert Mugabe Dies Aged 95

 

 

Robert Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe with an iron fist from 1980 to 2017, has died aged 95, the country’s president announced Friday.

First heralded as a liberator who rid the former British colony of Rhodesia of white minority rule, Mugabe used repression and fear to hold on to power in Zimbabwe until he was finally ousted by his previously loyal military generals.

“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President… Robert Mugabe,” Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a tweet.

“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.”

READ ALSO: Xenophobia: 10 Killed In South Africa – Ramaphosa

Mugabe had been battling ill health, and his humiliating fall from office in November 2017, his stamina seeped away rapidly. He was hospitalised in Singapore for months for an undisclosed ailment, Mnangagwa had confirmed earlier this year.

No further details were immediately available about the circumstances of his death, or where he died.

The Mugabe years are widely remembered for his crushing of political dissent, and policies that ruined the economy.

The former political prisoner turned guerrilla leader swept to power in the 1980 elections after a growing insurgency and economic sanctions forced the Rhodesian government to the negotiating table.

In office, he initially won international plaudits for his declared policy of racial reconciliation and for extending improved education and health services to the black majority.

But that faded as rapidly as he cracked down on opponents, including a campaign known as Gukurahundi that killed an estimated 20,000 dissidents.

The violent seizure of white-owned farms turned Mugabe into an international pariah — though his status as a liberation hero still resonates strongly in most of Africa.

Aimed largely at placating angry war veterans who threatened to destabilise his rule, the land reform policy wrecked the crucial agricultural sector, caused foreign investors to flee and helped plunge the country into economic misery.

All along, the Mugabe regime was widely accused of human rights violations and of rigging elections.

The topic of his succession was virtually taboo during Mugabe’s decades-long rule, and a vicious struggle to take over after his death became clear among the ruling elite as he reached his 90s and became visibly frail.

Grace Mugabe Accused Of Bloody Attack On Domestic Worker

Grace Mugabe also faces an arrest warrant in South Africa for her alleged assault on a female model in Johannesburg in 2017.

 

Grace Mugabe, the wife of former Zimbabwean ruler Robert Mugabe, has been accused of attacking an employee at the family’s home with a shoe in 2017, lawyers said Tuesday.

She also faces an arrest warrant in neighbouring South Africa for her alleged assault with a power cable on a female model in Johannesburg in the same year.

Papers filed in Zimbabwe’s high court by lawyers for Shupikai Chiroodza allege that Mugabe used her fists and then her shoe in a prolonged attack that left Chiroodza’s face pouring blood.

Mugabe allegedly attacked Chiroodza after accusing her of “milking” her husband because she had accepted a cash wedding gift from him, the papers say.

Chiroodza was a government employee working at the Mugabes’ private Blue Roof mansion in Harare when the alleged attack took place in March 2017, eight months before then-president Mugabe was forced from office.

“I represent Chiroodza, who was part of the domestic staff at Blue Roof in a case of unlawful dismissal,” lawyer Douglas Coltart told AFP.

In her court papers demanding her job back, Chiroodza said Grace Mugabe punched her and ordered her to return an unspecified amount of money.

“She started beating me with clenched fists shouting, ‘Who do you think you are? You are milking my husband behind my back’,” Chiroodza said in her court application.

‘I was terrified’

“I was terrified. She removed her shoe and continued assaulting me with it and blood started gushing out of my forehead, mouth and nose. The assault continued for about 20 minutes.”

Chiroodza said she received a dismissal letter two months later.

Coltart said the civil service commission had indicated it would not contest the case. “We are hoping to get some form of settlement,” he said.

Mugabe, 53, was seen as a possible successor to her husband in a race against Emmerson Mnangagwa, the current president.

Mugabe, now 95, was ousted following a brief military takeover in 2017 after 37 years in office and replaced by Mnangagwa, the favoured choice of the military.

In August 2017, Grace allegedly attacked Gabrielle Engels using an electrical extension cord at an upmarket hotel in Johannesburg where the Mugabes’ two sons were staying.

South Africa granted Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity, allowing her to hurriedly leave the country, but a court later scrapped the ruling.

She earned the nickname “Gucci Grace” for her lavish lifestyle as Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed under her husband’s authoritarian rule.

Last month Mnangagwa said Robert Mugabe was in Singapore for medical treatment and was expected back home in mid-May.

AFP

Nearly $1m In Cash Stolen From Mugabe’s House, Court Told

Robert Mugabe/ AFP

 

Nearly a million dollars in cash was stolen from a suitcase owned by ousted Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, state media reported Friday, as three suspects including a relative of the former leader face trial for the theft.

According to updated court papers Mugabe had filled the bag with a million dollars and stashed it in the library of his country home in Zvimba, west of the capital, in 2016.

Only $78,000 was found in the bag on January 6 this year, according to The Herald citing court documents.

The three accused — which include Constancia Mugabe, 50, a relative of the president — appeared before Chinhoyi magistrates court on Thursday and were ordered to return on February 7.

The suspected thieves are accused of spending the money on cars, houses and farm animals.

Mugabe’s whereabouts have been unconfirmed since late November when President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his successor, said the ailing 94-year-old was in Singapore for medical treatment and was now unable to walk.

His 37-year reign was marked by state corruption, economic collapse and brutal repression of dissent.

According to prosecutors, Constancia Mugabe had keys to Mugabe’s rural house allowing the other suspects, who were employed as cleaners, to gain full access to the property when the theft occurred.

The court earlier this month heard that the three suspected thieves had stolen $150,000, but the updated court papers released on Thursday showed that he lost $922,000.

US dollars are prized in crisis-hit Zimbabwe, where a currency crisis was one of the reasons behind deadly protests that rocked the country last week.

The protests were sparked by a steep increase in the price of fuel and an ensuing security crackdown claimed a dozen lives – mainly from gunfire – and the injury of hundreds.

More than 1,100 people have been arrested in the crackdown.

AFP

Mugabe’s Ministers Charged With Corruption In Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe Photo: Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Two former ministers under Robert Mugabe appeared in court in Harare on Wednesday on corruption charges, nearly a year after Zimbabwe’s long-time ruler was ousted from power.

Mugabe’s successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa has vowed to crack down on corruption, though critics say his government is still mired in the corruption that marred the Mugabe era.

Former information, communication and technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira faces two graft charges involving $5 million (4.4 million euros).

Harare’s chief provincial magistrate granted him bail of $2,000 and set his trial date for December 10.

In a separate room of the same court complex, the trial of Saviour Kasukuwere, a former local government, youth and environment minister and a senior figure in the ruling ZANU-PF party, also got underway on Wednesday.

Kasukuwere who is facing charges of illegally parcelling out land worth $2 million to former first lady Grace Mugabe’s sister, pleaded not guilty.

Also Wednesday, Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore appeared in the same court for a routine remand hearing on kidnapping charges over the alleged detention of an airline official.

Magistrate Elisha Singano said Chikore would stand trial on December 14.

Since Mugabe’s ousting after a brief military takeover in November 2017, authorities have arrested several of his allies including former home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and former energy minister Samuel Undenge.

Mnangagwa won disputed elections in July after succeeding Mugabe, who had ruled for 37 years.

AFP

Mugabe Votes In First Zimbabwe Election Since His Fall

 

Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe on Monday cast his ballot in the country’s first election since he was ousted by the military in November after ruling for 37 years.

Mugabe, 94, made no comment as he walked unaided into the polling station at a primary school in the Highfield district of Harare, accompanied by his wife Grace.

Mugabe was forced to resign when ruling ZANU-PF lawmaker threatened to impeach him after military generals launched a brief takeover to install their favoured candidate, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mugabe, who had not been seen in public since his ousting, made a surprise intervention on the eve of the election, calling for voters to throw the ruling ZANU-PF out of office.

During a two-hour press conference at his sprawling mansion in Harare, Mugabe said that he hoped the election would “thrust away the military form of government” and said he might vote for the opposition MDC.

President Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former ally in the ZANU-PF party, faces opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the landmark vote for the southern African nation.

The MDC has alleged the election result could be fixed.

Voting was peaceful on Monday with long lines outside polling stations in the capital Harare.

AFP

Mugabe Vows Not To Vote For Successor In Zimbabwe Polls

South Africa Let Me Down, Says Mugabe
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe delivers a speech during the Zimbabwe ruling party Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu PF) youth interface Rally in Bulawayo. PHOTO: AFP.

 

Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in November, said Sunday that he would not vote for his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa in the presidential election.

“For the first time ever we have now a long list of aspirants to power,” Mugabe said at his Blue Roof private residence in the capital Harare on the eve of the vote.

“I cannot vote for those who tormented me… I will make my choice among the other 22 (candidates), but it is a long list.”

Mugabe spoke slowly but appeared in good health sitting in a blue-tiled pagoda set on a lawn outside the sprawling luxury mansion in the upmarket suburb of Harare.

“I was sacked from the party I founded, ZANU-PF,” he said. “I was regarded now as an enemy, but… how come that I am treated now as a nonentity, an opponent?”

Zimbabwe goes to the polls Monday in its first election since Mugabe was forced to resign last November after 37 years in power, with allegations mounting of voter fraud and predictions of a disputed result.

President Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former ally in the ruling ZANU-PF party, faces opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in a landmark vote for the southern African nation.

Zimbabwe’s military generals shocked the world last year when they seized control and ushered Mnangagwa to power after Mugabe, 94, allegedly tried to position his wife Grace, 53, to be his successor.

“It was a thorough coup d’etat, you don’t roll… the tanks without your army and units deployed,” he said, adding it was “utter nonsense” that he wanted Grace as his successor.

 Fraud concerns 

Mnangagwa, 75, who promises a fresh start for the country, is the front-runner with the advantage of covert military support, a loyal state media and a ruling party that controls government resources.

But Chamisa, 40, who has performed strongly on the campaign trail, hopes to tap into a young population that could vote for change as ZANU-PF has ruled since the country’s independence from British colonial rule in 1980.

Elections under Mugabe were marred by fraud and violence, and this year’s campaign has been dominated by accusations that the vote will be rigged.

The MDC has raised allegations of a flawed electoral roll, ballot paper malpractice, voter intimidation, bias in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and free food handed out by the ruling party.

But campaigning has been relatively unrestricted and peaceful compared with previous elections, and some analysts point to pressure for the vote to be judged credible to draw a line under the international isolation of the Mugabe era.

Polling in Zimbabwe is uncertain, but a recent Afrobarometer survey of 2,400 people put Mnangagwa on 40 percent and Chamisa on 37 percent, with 20 percent undecided.

Mnangagwa, who is accused of involvement in election violence and fraud under Mugabe, has vowed to hold a fair vote and invited in international observers — including the previously-banned European Union team.

Final rallies 

“What is left now is only one push on Monday to vote — to vote for ZANU-PF so we have a thunderous victory,” Mnangagwa told his supporters who filled about half of the 60,000-capacity national stadium at his final rally on Saturday.

“Today we unlock the potential of our beloved homeland to build a new Zimbabwe for all,” he said, repeating his promise of economic revival.

Chamisa has launched blistering attacks on Mnangagwa and accused the much-criticised Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of trying to fix the election.

But he has also vowed not to boycott the vote, saying his party would still win.

“If we miss our opportunity on Monday, we are doomed because the current government is clueless (but) we are the next government, we are the winners no doubt,” he told a large crowd of more than 10,000 on Saturday.

Chamisa is also due to give a press conference later Sunday.

With 5.6 million registered voters, the results of the presidential, parliamentary and local elections are due by August 4.

A run-off vote is scheduled for September 8 if no presidential candidate wins at least 50 percent in the first round.

AFP

Zimbabwe Jails Mugabe’s Ex-Minister For Corruption

 

A Zimbabwe court on Friday handed a four-year jail term to a former energy minister who served in Robert Mugabe’s last cabinet after he was found guilty of corruption, state media reported.

Samuel Undenge, 62, will serve just two-and-half years after 18 months were suspended on condition of good behaviour, the state-owned Herald newspaper said.

He is the first senior Mugabe-era official to be convicted since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took office in November after the military ousted the long-time leader.

Undenge was found guilty of awarding a public relations service contract to a company owned by a top ZANU-PF ruling party official, without going to a public tender. The firm was paid $12,000.

“Undenge has been jailed effective two-and-half years for abuse of public office after he handpicked a public relations company for the Zimbabwe Power Company without going to tender,” the newspaper said.

Mnangagwa has vowed his government will not tolerate corruption.

But his critics say the 75-year-old has done little to tame graft, accusing his administration of ignoring suspected corrupt senior officials.

Several ministers from Mugabe’s government were arrested for corruption and abuse of office in the months following the forced resignation of the 93-year-old veteran leader.

They included former finance minister Ignatious Chombo, ex-mining minister Walter Chidhakwa and ex-sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane, who are facing corruption and criminal abuse of office charges. Their trials are ongoing.

Zimbabwe holds elections on July 30, the first after the ouster of Mugabe.

A new poll released Friday showed Mnangagwa with only a narrow lead over opposition leader Nelson Chamisa in the landmark vote.

AFP

Mugabe In Singapore For Health Check

Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe                                                                  Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe is back in Singapore for a medical check-up, a local privately-owned daily reported Wednesday.

The 94-year-old ex-ruler “slipped out of the country two weeks ago after his blood pressure suddenly rose to dangerous levels,” one unnamed source told the NewsDay.

But another unidentified source who confirmed the trip told the paper that “it’s nothing serious. It is the usual check-ups and this one, in particular, was scheduled”.

Mugabe was accompanied by his wife Grace, the paper said.

The first source also added that Mugabe had “trouble with his eye, which previously has been diagnosed with a cataract”.

No officials or close family sources were available for comment.

Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe from the country’s independence from British colonial rule in 1980 until he was ousted in November 2017 following a brief military take over.

He was replaced by his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, a favourite of the military who was seen as Mugabe’s possible successor.

He has been in the increasingly frail health and has reportedly battled prostate cancer.

His former spokesman George Charamba had four years ago denied speculation about Mugabe’s failing health saying he only had trouble with an eye which had developed a cataract.

In recent years he has made several trips to Singapore, a popular medical tourism destination, for undisclosed medical conditions.

AFP

Uncertainty Over Mugabe’s Perceived Nonappearance At Zimbabwe Parliament

Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe                                                        Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

A Zimbabwe parliamentary committee gathered Wednesday to hear evidence from former president Robert Mugabe, but there was no immediate sign that he would attend.

Lawmakers want to question Mugabe over his 2016 claim that the country had lost $15 billion in revenue due to corruption and foreign exploitation in the diamond sector.

The parliamentary schedule said Mugabe, who is 94 and in frail health, was due to give oral evidence but that his attendance was still to be confirmed.

Mugabe was not present on Wednesday morning as the committee met to start the hearing at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) and there was no extra security at the parliament building in the capital Harare.

Journalists were asked to leave the committee room and told they would be called back later in the morning.

The head of the mines committee, independent lawmaker Temba Mliswa, told state-run The Herald newspaper on Tuesday that a letter summoning Mugabe was delivered last week.

“We now expect him to come,” he said, but added that Mugabe had not confirmed his attendance and was not legally obliged to attend.

No one in Mugabe’s office was available to comment.

Mugabe ruled from 1980 until he was ousted from office in November after a brief military takeover and has not been seen in public since.

He was replaced by his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, a veteran loyalist in the ruling ZANU-PF party who was backed by senior military officers.

Zimbabwe discovered alluvial diamonds in Chiadzwa, in the east of the country, more than 10 years ago.

The parliament committee has already interviewed former ministers, police and intelligence chiefs on mining at Chiadzwa.

Zimbabwe is due to hold elections in July or August, the first since Mugabe was unseated, with ZANU-PF widely predicted to retain power.

AFP

Zimbabwe Parliament To Summon Mugabe On May 23 Hearing

Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attends the 2nd Session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe binational Commission (BNC) at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. 
Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

A Zimbabwe parliament committee has summoned former president Robert Mugabe to give evidence on Wednesday about diamond corruption alleged to have cost billions of dollars during his rule.

Mugabe, who was ousted from office in November after a brief military takeover, has not commented on whether he will appear before the committee.

A parliamentary notice for May 23 was released on Monday.

“Subject to confirmation, oral evidence from His Excellency, the former president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, comrade R. G. Mugabe, on diamond mining revenues,” it read.

Mugabe, 94, who is in frail health, was also called to give evidence last month but the meeting was postponed.

Lawmakers plan to question Mugabe over his 2016 claim that the country had lost $15 billion in revenue due to corruption and foreign exploitation in the diamond sector.

No one in Mugabe’s office was available to confirm whether he would appear.

The former president, whose own regime was accused of syphoning off diamond profits, has described his ousting as a coup.

He has not been seen in public since November, though he hosted a private birthday party in February at “Blue Roof” — the lavish mansion where he and his wife Grace, 52, have been living in apparent seclusion in recent months.

Mugabe was replaced by his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, a veteran loyalist in the ruling ZANU-PF party who was backed by senior military officers.

Zimbabwe discovered alluvial diamonds in Chiadzwa, in the east of the country, over 10 years ago.

Rights groups have accused security forces of using brutal methods to control the scattered deposits.

The parliament committee, headed by independent MP Temba Mliswa, has already interviewed former ministers, police and intelligence chiefs on mining at Chiadzwa.

Zimbabwe is due to hold elections in July or August, the first since Mugabe was unseated, with the Zanu-PF widely predicted to retain power.

AFP

Mugabe Yet To Move Out Of Official Residential Wing

In this file photo taken on October 03, 2017 Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attends the 2nd Session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe binational Commission (BNC) at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe has yet to move out of an official residence in Harare five months after he was ousted from power, an official said Thursday.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba said Mugabe had still had not removed his belongings from Zimbabwe House, a residential wing next to the presidential offices at State House.

“We are already using State House, but what he failed to do since November (is move out of Zimbabwe House),” Charamba told AFP, confirming that Mugabe had kept his books, computers and other belongings at the premises.

Mugabe and his family actually lived in the “Blue Roof ” mansion, a lavish private house in the suburbs during the later years of his presidency.

“We don’t want to create the impression that we are chasing him away,” Charamba said, adding that Mugabe, 94, was currently in Singapore for one of his regular health checks.

Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years after independence from Britain, complained last month that he was thrown out of office by a coup.

His claim drew a dismissive response from his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa, who said the country had “moved on” from the Mugabe era.

The Army briefly took over before Mugabe resigned when once-loyal ZANU-PF lawmakers started impeachment proceedings against him.

Mugabe’s authoritarian reign left the country in dire economic decline, triggering mass emigration and widespread collapse of public services.

Zimbabwe Parliament To Summon Mugabe Over Diamond Mining

Robert Mugabe Photo: Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

A committee of lawmakers in Zimbabwe is to summon former president Robert Mugabe to testify at a probe into lost revenue from diamond mining, a legislator said Tuesday.

The lawmakers plan to question Mugabe over his 2016 claim that the country had lost $15 billion (12.13 billion euros) in income from diamonds due to corruption and foreign exploitation.

Mugabe — whose own regime was accused of siphoning off diamond profits — was ousted last  November after a military takeover that ushered his former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to power.

“The committee resolved to call the former president to testify,” Temba Mliswa, an independent lawmaker who chairs parliament’s committee on mines and energy, told AFP.

“He was the president, and we want to know where he was getting the $15 billion figure (from).”

He said no date had yet been set to call Mugabe to testify.

It was unclear whether Mugabe, 94, who has not been seen in public since his ousting, could be forced to face a grilling from lawmakers.

Mugabe ruled the country for 38 years, exercising ruthless control over parliament, security forces and the country’s mineral resources.

The committee has already summoned former ministers, ex-police chiefs and heads of a government department.

Mliswa said a report would be compiled when the investigation was complete.

Zimbabwe discovered alluvial diamonds in Chiadzwa, in the east of the country, over a decade ago, and rights groups have accused security forces of using brutal methods to control the scattered deposits.

Over 200 people were killed during operations to remove illegal panners from the area, rights groups say.

Amid allegations of massive looting, Zimbabwe allowed several diamond companies to mine the area — most of them as joint ventures between the government and Chinese firms.

AFP