The United States says the late former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe violated people’s rights and impoverished the southern African nation during his 37-year rule.
In a statement, the U.S Department of State, which extended condolences to those mourning the loss of the former Zimbabwean leader, said Mugabe let down his people.
“We extend our condolences to those mourning the loss of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Robert Mugabe helped liberate Zimbabwe, but his human rights abuses and gross economic mismanagement impoverished millions and betrayed his people’s hopes for their nation. We continue to support the aspirations of the Zimbabwean people for a better, more prosperous future.”
The United States imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle over allegations of human rights abuses and election rigging.
The late former president blamed the sanctions for decimating the country's once vibrant economy. But this was dismissed by independent economists, who cited mismanagement as the major cause of Zimbabwe's economic decay.
Mugabe is accused of deploying a military crack unit, the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in the 1980s, which butchered thousands of people, mainly opposition PF Zapu supporters, in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions in an attempt to quell what he called a dissident menace.
At least 20,000 are believed to have been killed and thousands maimed in the crackdown that forced then PF Zapu leader to seek refuge in Britain before going back home to sign a unity accord in 1987 with the then prime minister.
The majority of PF Zapu followers pulled out of the unity accord, under the leadership of the late former ZIPRA intelligence supremo, Dumiso Dabengwa.
The atrocities were exposed in a hard-hitting book titled ‘Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace: A Report on the Disturbances in Matabeleland and The Midlands, 1980 – 1988’, which was compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe and The Legal Resources Foundation.
Mugabe called the Fifth Brigade atrocities a moment of madness but died without apologizing to the people of the two regions, a demand that has been made by chiefs and locals in Matabeleland and the Midlands.