Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died of a stroke at the age of 87. Thatcher, made a baroness by Queen Elizabeth the second, had a long and controversial career, transforming the British economy and society with her conservative party's anti-union, anti-regulation policies during an 11-year tenure from 1979 to 1990.
She was a grocer's daughter who rose to become Britain's only woman prime minister, and she held the job longer than anyone else in the 20th century. But her tenure through 3 election victories created considerable discord, alienating workers, deregulating health and safety hazards, and splitting her own cabinet on some issues.
Her foreign policy towards Africa was equally controversial. She supported the apartheid regime but opposed the former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith.
She had cordial relations with president Robert Mugabe and once visited Zimbabwe. Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvagirai spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the world has lost a woman who championed women’s causes.
Mwonzora’s sentiments are echoed by Nhlanhla Dube, spokesman for the MDC formation led by Industry minister Welshman Ncube. Dube adds that Thatcher was an inspiring leader who should be emulated by Zimbabwean women.
However, political commentator Nkululeko Sibanda, who is also a political lecturer at Huddersfield University in London, said many Zimbabweans will long remember Thatcher for her possible involvement in Mr. Mugabe’s alleged rigging of elections in 1980.
Thatcher had suffered from ill health for several years.