Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Tendai Biti, has expressed shock at the death the country’s former president Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe died in the early hours of Friday morning in a hospital in Singapore, aged 95. He had been battling ill-health.
Mugabe was ousted from power in a military coup in November 2017. Biti says although he was tortured by Robert Mugabe, he remains the founding father of Zimbabwe:
“We are shocked notwithstanding his age, for all our fights with him as opposition the fact of the matter is that he was the founding father of our struggle. He shepherd Zimbabwe for all this years, now that we’ve got this new clad Emmerson we now really appreciate how he actually protected Zimbabwe. We express our deep loss to the people of Zimbabwe. I was jailed and imprisoned by Robert Mugabe, I was tortured by Robert Mugabe but I’m not bitter, I’m not bitter at all, so rest in peace Robert Mugabe.”
Mugabe was harshly criticised for implementing the land distribution programme of 2000 where farms were seized without compensation.
The land invasions plunged Zimbabwe’s economy into freefall, worsening an already dire situation.
The agricultural sector suffered a massive blow as the new black land owners failed to take over the running of the farms.
The University of South Africa’s (Unisa) Professor Shadrack Gutto, believes Mugabe knew he couldn’t afford to stop the land grabs.
“He was clever enough not to confront the people who were occupying the farms, because if he had done that – it would have escalated to a point where he could have been even overthrown because the land issue was a burning issue in the liberation struggle.”
Mugabe believed that his former protégé and current president Emmerson Mnangagwa betrayed him when he led an operation to have him step down from power.
Mugabe unwillingly resigned in November 2017 after the military which was aligned with Mnangagwa applied pressure for him to go.
The elderly statesman spoke to the SABC in March 2018, explaining how he felt about the ousting.
“Yes I feel betrayed that I’ve gone that way, there it was, there it is it happened on the 15th of November. He was assisted by the army. I said it was a coup d’état, some people have refused to call it a coup d’état,” says Mugabe.