Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe who became an African liberation hero after toppling white colonial rule but then led his country to economic collapse and the brink of starvation, has died at the age of 95.
What We Know:
- Mugabe was the world’s oldest ruler when he resigned as Zimbabwe’s president in November of 2017, following a military coup. He had ruled the country since 1980.
- Mugabe’s family also confirmed his death to the BBC. He had been receiving medical treatment in Singapore.
- Before he resigned, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party had already removed Mugabe as leader and named Mnangagwa in his place.
- Mugabe became prime minister after the end of white minority rule in 1980 in the country, which was previously known as Rhodesia. He took office as president in 1987 following a change in the constitution.
- The liberation hero cast himself champion of racial reconciliation when he first came to power, but nearly four decades later critics denounced him as an autocrat willing to unleash death squads, rig elections and trash the economy. The economy of Zimbabwe, an African nation of more than 14 million north of South Africa and bordered by Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia, collapsed under Mugabe after 37 years of near one-party rule.
- Mugabe’s last five-year term began in 2013 after elections criticized by international monitors. Mugabe responded by telling his critics to “go hang.”
Mugabe told NBC News in 2013 that “we have never, ever rigged an election.” He blamed Britain for the country’s problems, and said at that time that he had no second thought about his time leading the country.
“I don’t have regrets at all,” he said.