Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe: Liberator and Despot

Grant Ferret looks back at the divisive life of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
Grant Ferret looks back at the divisive life of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. Until he was forced from power in 2017, Robert Gabriel Mugabe was one of the great survivors of the African political firmament. Former BBC Zimbabwe correspondent Grant Ferrett hears from those who knew him as a child at a Catholic missionary school, and former comrades in the nationalist movement who fought with him against the Rhodesian government of Ian Smith. When Zimbabwe was established in 1980, Robert Mugabe was its first president. Initially he adopted a conciliatory tone – to both the white community and his biggest political rival, Joshua Nkomo. But in 1983, he deployed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade against so-called, ‘dissidents’ from Nkomo’s ZAPU party in Matebeleland. No one knows how many thousands were killed. Mugabe could be ruthless, yet he also pursued progressive policies in education and health so that thousands of black Zimbabweans got access to public services. That was before the economy began to implode, and the president began his campaign against white-owned farms. By the time he was deposed at the age of 93, his regime was mired in allegations of corruption and Robert Mugabe’s political capital had run dry. He spent his last years out of power, away from the spotlight he had enjoyed for so long as President. 
Producer: Linda Pressly

Mugabe to be buried at home not Heroes Acre

People carrying a coffin
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Former President Robert Mugabe was given a state funeral on 14 September

In the latest episode in the saga of where Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe will be buried, the family has reversed a decision to have him interred at Heroes Acre in the capital, Harare.

Instead he will be buried in his home region of Zvimba.

The location of his grave became a source of tension between the Mugabe family and the government.

They blame the current leadership for Mr Mugabe's overthrow in November 2017. He was toppled after 37 years in power and replaced by current President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

At his funeral, family member Walter Chidhakwa said he had died a "sad, sad, sad man".

It was thought that the family had compromised over the site of his burial and agreed to Mr Mugabe being laid to rest at Heroes Acre, where those who fought colonial rule are buried, once a mausoleum had been built.

But it seems there has been a change of heart.

In a statement, Information Minister Nick Mangwana said the government will respect the wishes of the family and support them in providing a "fitting burial" in Zvimba.

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Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe 'died of cancer'

Person walks past digital image of Robert Mugabe
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Memorials like this digital image have been springing up in tribute to the former president

Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe died from cancer after his chemotherapy treatment was stopped, the country's state-run Herald newspaper quoted his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying.

The president gave two reasons for why doctors in Singapore had stopped the treatment:

Because of age and also because the cancer had spread and it was not helping anymore."

The 95-year-old former leader, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years from independence until he was ousted in a coup in November 2017, died earlier this month in Singapore, where he had been in hospital for several months.

He will be buried in a mausoleum still under construction at Heroes Acre - a hilltop shrine just outside the capital, Harare, where many of the country's most prominent liberation fighters have been laid to rest.

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