Zimbabwe's long-time dictator Mugabe has died

Robert Mugabe has passed away in Singapore at the age of 95. In the 1960s he was active in the guerilla war for independence from British colonial rule. From 1987 on his role as Zimbabwean president increasingly took the form of dictatorship, until he was toppled in a coup d'état two years ago. Commentators across Europe look back on his ambivalent biography.

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Pravda (SK) /

From liberator to despot

Mugabe was first an icon then a dictator, Pravda writes:

“He was one of those who refused to obey the logic of British racial intolerance. He fought, survived prison and finally became president of the new Republic of Zimbabwe. He had ups and downs, but in the labyrinth of power he ultimately led his country into isolation, tyranny and fear. The highpoint was a land reform that appealed to the lowest forms of black nationalism and disappropriated white people. ... Unlike Nelson Mandela, who was also radical to a certain degree, he didn't want to accept the fact that a country can never be well run when it is only driven by injustice, aggressive rhetoric and brutal policies.”

Kommersant (RU) /

For Africa a hero

Alexander Baunov, editor-in-chief of Carnegie.ru, explains in a guest commentary for Kommersant why Mugabe still enjoys hero status in Africa despite all the negative sides of his rule:

“He was the last living founder of a black African nation state, who wrested his country from the colonial forces. He completed the liberation of the continent and even afterwards showed no fear of the West, whose sanctions and condemnation could also be seen - depending on your perspective - as a form of neocolonialism. ... In the days of the struggle against colonialism, cult worship of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie - the head of the the only sovereign African country - was widespread in Africa, even though everyone knew that Ethiopia was anything but a flourishing, model country. Mugabe stands as a figurehead on a similar pedestal in Africa.”

Keskisuomalainen (FI) /

Self-inflicted misery

Mugabe's rule plunged Zimbabwe into crisis, Keskisuomalainen comments:

“Forty years ago Mugabe came to power as a popular freedom fighter and a symbol of a new world order, freed from the shackles of colonialism and imperialism. ... Mugabe's overly long rule was characterised by human rights abuses, bad governance, corruption and economic chaos. And the poverty was self-inflicted. Mugabe's rule destroyed the country's agriculture, which was crucial for all of Africa. Since the end of his rule the crisis has escalated and the economy seems unable to recover.”