'Disappointing that Robert Mugabe remembered as revolutionary icon by leaders'

On Friday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared Robert Mugabe a national hero, after his predecessor died in a Singapore hospital at the age of 95.

South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa and Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta were among the African leaders to pay tribute to Mugabe, who is both revered as a revolutionary icon and reviled as a ruthless dictator.

But how do Zimbabweans themselves feel about this mixed legacy?

RELATED: [BREAKING NEWS] Robert Mugabe (95) has died in Singapore

CapeTalk's Africa Melane gets the input of analyst and researcher Tamuka Chirimambowa, who is an associate at the Democracy Works Foundation (DWF).

While acknowledging Mugabe's role in the country's liberation struggle, Chirimambowa says a significant number of Zimbabweans feel he betrayed them.

He describes Mugabe's death as an 'akward' moment as people's various cultures require that they do not speak ill of the dead.

But deep down, people are saying 'a tyrant has gone'. Some people, on social media, have been brave enough to celebrate it.

Tamuka Chirimambowa, Associate - Democracy Works Foundation

When you look at the record of Robert Mugabe it evokes a number of emotions but I think what has been quite disappointing is when you look at Robert Mugabe - even in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, you hear 'revolutionary icon' but actually this speaks to the pitfalls of national consciousness which you find across Africa.

Tamuka Chirimambowa, Associate - Democracy Works Foundation

Chirimambowa notes there are very few exceptions to the tendency of Africa's post-independence leaders to betray their people.

He says Mugabe cannot be compared to these exceptions, citing South Africa's Nelson Mandela and Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda as examples.

If you look at what happens post-independence, particularly around the human rights record, how Mugabe dealt with Zimbabweans right from the Matabele massacres to dealing with issues of opposition supporters - the killings, the disappearances, the torture - that brings a scar.

Tamuka Chirimambowa, Associate - Democracy Works Foundation

Was he interested in liberation or was he interested in getting into power for his own personal sake?

Tamuka Chirimambowa, Associate - Democracy Works Foundation

For more from Chirimambowa, take a listen:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'Disappointing that Robert Mugabe remembered as revolutionary icon by leaders'


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