Malawians, led by political leaders, have joined the world in mourning the passing on of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe on Thursday after a long illness. He was 95 years old.
Tens of thousands of people took to social media with mixed reactions early morning yesterday when news went viral that Mugabe had died in a hospital in Singapore.
Government spokesperson Mark Botomani yesterday said Malawians joined the people and government of Zimbabwe in grieving over Mugabe’s death.
“Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to his family, loved ones and the people of Zimbabwe. Mugabe didn’t only represent the people of Zimbabwe but the entire continent, especially the Sadc region. We will remember him as a fearless and patriotic leader,” said Botomani.
Malawi’s first pro-democracy president Bakili Muluzi portrayed Mugabe as a revolutionary comrade and African icon who will not only be missed by Zimbabweans but Africans as the continent’s loyal son.
“Despite challenges he had in his country, Mugabe will be remembered as an ardent leader who used to call a-spade-a-spade. He would valiantly speak his mind at any assembly whether at Sadc [Southern Africa Development Community], AU [African Union] or UN [United Nations],” Muluzi mourned.
Muluzi, who led Malawi between 1994 and 2004, said he would personally miss Mugabe after he closely worked with him during the period he chaired Sadc.
Speaking from Cape Town, South Africa, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president and former leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera
also joined the world in mourning with the people of Zimbabwe.
“As enigmatic a figure as Mugabe was, he nonetheless embodied the spirit of liberation and African unity reminiscent of the Nkrumas [Kwame- Ghana’s first prime minister and president who led the Gold Coast to independence from Britain in 1957] of yesteryear… The mighty have indeed fallen,” said Chakwera.
While Malawi’s immediate past vice-president and leader of UTM Saulos Chilima said: “For his contribution to the liberation, he should be saluted. A brave warrior he was.”
Mugabe was a popular figure here in Malawi and two roads were named after him.
Zimbabwe’s current President Emmerson Mnangagwa has described his predecessor as an icon of liberation and 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,” Mnangagwa said in a tweet yesterday morning.
President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Tanzania’s John Magufuli, Namibia’s Hage Geingob, Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and Vladimir Putin of Russia were among the first to convey their tributes.
Born in 1924 in the then Rhodesia, Mugabe co-founded a resistance movement against British colonial rule and was jailed for 10 years between 1964 and 1974 before gaining independence in 1980.
He ruled the country with an iron fist from 1980 until November 2017 when he was toppled by his own military.
Reports indicate that he asked his family members to be buried next to his mother Bona on the family farm near Harare.
He is survived by his second wife, Grace and three children.