A legacy of human rights violations: Western diplomats reflect Mugabe’s death

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By Costa Nkomo

WHILE a lot of African leaders Friday took turns to heap praise on the late former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe describing him as an African Revolutionary icon and Pan-Africanist honours, Western diplomats in Harare did not share the same sentiments.

In comments that came after Mugabe’s death was announced, many argued Mugabe left a tattered legacy of human rights violations.

The Dutch embassy said although Mugabe was a liberator and pan-Africanist, he violated his own people’s rights.

“Mixed reactions as Zimbabwe reflects on the legacy of former president Mugabe. A liberator, pan-African leader but also responsible for human rights violations.

“We express our condolences to those who mourn his death,” the embassy wrote on Twitter Friday.

The United Kingdom also weighed in saying Zimbabweans suffered under the leadership of Mugabe saying it is hoping for the better under the new era.

“There are mixed emotions in Zimbabwe today at the death of Robert Mugabe. We express our condolences to those who mourn Robert Mugabe’s death. However, Zimbabweans suffered for too long as a result of Mugabe’s autocratic rule.

“We hope that in this new era, Zimbabwe can continue to be set on a more democratic and prosperous path,” the country’s former colonial power said.

The European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA) also conveyed their condolences to the Mugabe family and the people of Zimbabwe.

African leaders, however, ignored the negative side of Mugabe, going out heaping praise and showering the 37 year dictator with Pan-Africanist and Revolutionary icon accolades.

Led by the African Union (AU) chairperson Moussa Fak Mahamat among other African countries’ leaders, condolences messages have poured in to the people of Zimbabwe and the Mugabe family.

Mahamat described Mugabe as a unifier and PanAfricanist.

“It is with immense sadness that I learnt of the passing of former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

“My sincere condolences to his family and the Zimbabwean people as we mourn an iconic liberation fighter and PanAfricanist in the struggle for continental integration,” Mahamat said on Twitter.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Zambian President Edgar Lungu, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, among other African leaders, also relayed their deepest sympathies to the Mugabe family and Zimbabwean people.

Under his rule, Mugabe oversaw about 20 000 majority Ndebeles killings in the western regions of the country in the early 1980s, violence that came up with the land reform programme in the 2000s and the violent attacks on MDC supporters in 2008.

Leader of the South African opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema described Mugabe as a giant of the African Revolution whose legacy must be protected.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared three days of mourning Mugabe while Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni called Mugabe “an African liberation icon and great Pan-Africanist.”