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Some Zimbabweans Mourn Their Former Leader, Mugabe

James Nyatanga and his wife Febby Felictus Dube from Zvimba district say their 95-year old hero died of stress after he was deposed in 2017 and since then life has been miserable for Zimbabweans. (C. Mavhunga/VOA)

Ahead of a state funeral for Robert Mugabe, some Zimbabweans are mourning their former leader, who died last week in Singapore. A hero to some, Mugabe was also a controversial figure.

Mourners gathered at the home of former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, about 100 kilometers southwest of Harare.

Febby Felictus Dube was among them.

She said, “To us he is a hero and made us better people. Right now it’s different. We lost our father.”

But Mugabe isn't revered by everyone. Thirty-two-year-old Sam Callisto Kabhara is a critic.

Sam Callisto Kabhara sells firewood in Norton town in Zimbabwe. He blames Mugabe’s 37-year rule for his unemployment. (C.Mavhunga/VOA)

“Mugabe is not a hero. We can’t say he is a hero,” he said.

Kabhara's job is to fetch and sell firewood about five kilometers outside Harare. Kabhara said Mugabe’s 37-year rule is responsible for his unemployment.

Kabhara also said, “Yes, he fought against colonialism but after fighting for our independence he still made us suffer. The current leaders should learn from Mugabe’s mistakes.”

Shadreck Makau blames sanctions for Zimbabwe's poor economy, not Mugabe.

Shadreck Makau blames sanctions for Zimbabwe's poor economy, not Mugabe. (C. Mavhunga/VOA)

Makau said, “I feel pained for the loss of Mugabe because he provided free education. I do not think Mugabe had a hand in the destruction of the economy.”

During his nearly 40 years in power, Mugabe would blame sanctions for the state of the economy. The West imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 after Mugabe was alleged to have violently seized land from white commercial farmers.

Regarding human rights, Mugabe was accused of unleashing death squads to squash the opposition. He was also accused of election rigging.

Mugabe's body will arrive Wednesday from Singapore.

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