Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Central Bank Reverses Policy and Halves Key Rate to 35%

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Zimbabwe’s central bank halved its key interest rate to 35%, joining the finance ministry in efforts to revive an economy hobbled by years of mismanagement.

The decision reverses a move by the southern African nation’s newly formed Monetary Policy Committee in September that raised the rate from 50%. It follows the unveiling last week of the 2020 budget which shows a planned surge in spending for next year.

The rate was cut as the MPC “emphasized the need for the bank to put in place measures to fund the productive sectors of the economy by redirecting excess liquidity in the financial system,” Governor John Mangudya said in a statement.

While the moves by the monetary and fiscal authorities seek to boost the economy that’s forecast to contract this year, it could drive up price growth in a nation that a decade ago had to abandon its own currency due to hyperinflation that reached an estimated 500 billion %. The government dropped a one-to-one peg of its quasi currency to the dollar in February and later outlawed the use of foreign exchange. Since then, the currency has lost almost 94% of its value against the greenback.

The worst regional drought in almost 40 years hit food supplies and left about half of Zimbabwe’s 14 million people without reliable access to enough to eat, further driving up costs.

Despite a spike in the monthly inflation rate to 38.8% in October, the central bank says the outlook for price growth is positive. While the country stopped releasing annual figures in August, the rate is 440%, according to John Robertson, an independent economist in Harare.

“The inflation rate itself says the interest rate should be set a lot higher,” Robertson said. “It’s a whole collection of imbalances and the interest rate is one of them.”

The October inflation increase was “due to shocks caused by mainly adjustments of electricity and fuel prices,” Mangudya said. The position on interest rates will be reviewed at future MPC meetings, he said. The panel will convene again on Nov. 29.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/zimbabwe-central-bank-reverses-policy-and-halves-key-rate-to-35-1.1349640

Zimbabwe Distributes New Banknotes but Keeps Curb on Withdrawals

Zimbabwean banks started distributing low-denominated banknotes on Tuesday to help end a crippling cash shortage, more than a decade since the nation had its own hard currency.

However, strict withdrawal limits of Z$300 ($19) a week meant consumers continued to struggle to get enough cash to cover costs.

The central bank sent Z$30 million of the new notes to local banks, the state-controlled Herald newspaper cited Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya as saying. Lenders were issuing newly minted Z$2 and Z$5 notes and coins.

“The only consolation is that today I got my money, but the problem is that it’s not enough to last the whole week since I use public transport,” said Ishe Mukoi, a store supervisor in the capital, Harare.

Zimbabwe this year abolished a multi-currency system and reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar as sole legal tender, a decade after it went out of circulation because of hyperinflation. It has weakened from a 1:1 parity peg in February to 15.8742 per U.S. dollar on Tuesday.

The central bank plans to “drip feed” Z$1 billion into the economy over the next six months to help end arbitrage and premiums being charged on the parallel market.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/zimbabwe-distributes-new-banknotes-but-keeps-curb-on-withdrawals-1.1346619

IMF: Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world

Harare, Zimbabwe – Annual inflation in Zimbabwe was 300 percent in August, according to new data released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At that level, the troubled southern African nation’s inflation rate is the highest in the world.

Annualised inflation in Zimbabwe was measured at 175.66 percent in June, up from 97.85 percent in May. In a statement released on Thursday, IMF head of delegation Gene Leon said Zimbabwe was experiencing what he described as severe economic difficulties.

Leon was a part of an IMF delegation that was recently in the country to assess progress on the implementation of a Staff Monitored Program (SMP) that measures economic performance and Zimbabwe’s commitment to reforms. The programme is a key step towards unlocking IMF funding.

“Since the February currency reform, the exchange rate has depreciated ,” Leon said. The currency went from one-to-one with the US unit to 1 to 16.5 as of September 23, “fostering high inflation, which reached almost 300 percent (year-over-year) in August.”

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube banned the publication of annual inflation numbers in July to allow the country’s statistical agency, Zimstat, to compile new price data, which will only be published in February 2020, Ncube said.

This is not the first time Zimbabwe has experienced high inflation. Government figures show Zimbabwe’s peak inflation rate was 79.6 billion percent month-on-month and 89.7 sextillion percent year-on-year in mid-November 2009. Hyperinflation only ended the following year with the adoption of the US dollar.

Sting of inflation

While Zimstat is not confirming the IMF’s inflation estimate, many Zimbabweans are feeling the sting of the Zimbabwean dollar’s diminishing value.

Chenjerai Varugu, a vendor who sells mobile phone chargers and USB cables in Harare’s streets, says high inflation has made life tougher for him.

“Life is just now harder for me,” he told Al Jazeera. “I am now struggling to buy food. Bread is now $10. Everything has gone up.” When the local currency was pegged to the US dollar a loaf of bread could be bought for $1.

Varugu said he was thinking of leaving the country because most of his merchandise comes from abroad and that makes his livelihood particularly sensitive to exchange rates.

“The weakening local currency also affects my business in a big way because the wholesalers of the products buy these products in US dollars and increase the prices when the Zim dollar weakens against the US dollar,” Varugu said. When the cost of doing business for him rises, he raises prices, but he admits this is not a sustainable solution. “Customers generally don’t buy as much when you increase the price.”

Leon said economic difficulties in the country have been exacerbated by severe weather shocks. He foresees a steep drop in the value of all the goods and services produced within Zimbabwe in 2019.

“Social conditions have deteriorated sharply, with more than half of Zimbabwe’s population [8.5 million people] estimated by the UN to be food insecure in 2019/2020. Weakening confidence, policy uncertainty, a continuation of FX market distortions, and a recent expansionary monetary stance has increased pressure on the exchange rate,” Leon added.

Worse than Venezuela

Like Zimbabwe, the Venezuelan government in 2018 once suspended inflation readings.

This year, annual inflation in Venezuela – the country with the world’s second-highest inflation – was measured at 135.3 percent in August. On a month-on-month basis, consumer prices in Venezuela rose 65.2 percent in the same month, according to the opposition-controlled Congress.

While inflation in Venezuela has decelerated in recent months because of strict reserve requirements on banks, which reduced the credit available to businesses, Zimbabwe’s rate hike has not slowed down inflation.

https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/imf-zimbabwe-highest-inflation-rate-world-190927004536305.html

Mugabe honored as an ‘African hero’

Foreign dignitaries including former and current African leaders on Saturday paid tribute to the late former President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe at a state funeral in Harare.

Mugabe died in Singapore last week at the age of 95. Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for nearly four decades until he resigned in 2017, will be buried later at the National Heroes Acre in Harare after completion of a special mausoleum that is being built for him at the top of the shrine.

In his eulogy, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said the whole of Africa was mourning the loss of a great fighter and a worthy combatant of Africa’s causes.

The whole of the African continent in general and particularly the people of Zimbabwe have lost a contemporary leader of this millennium. A true defender of human dignity all over the world and a strong defender of the sovereign rights of the people of Zimbabwe, he said.

Obiang was the last African leader to visit Mugabe four days before he passed on in Singapore.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Mugabe will be remembered as a pan-Africanist who selflessly dedicated his life to the emancipation of Zimbabwe and Africa.

“He was a visionary leader and relentless champion of African dignity. Mugabe has left an indelible mark in the history of Zimbabwe and African continent at large through his political astuteness and zeal for the economic and political liberation of Africa,” Kenyatta said.

He said keeping Mugabe’s dream of a truly free and prosperous Africa will be the most befitting tribute that Africa can pay to the departed African statesman.

Mugabe, Kenyatta said, was steadfast regarding Africa’s quest to address challenges facing the continent and he saluted his unwavering insistence that African problems demand African solutions.

He observed that Mugabe always championed African interests first and challenged African leaders to continue doing the same as a befitting tribute to Mugabe.

Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings said Mugabe was not only a teacher but an impressive moral compass.

“Our enduring affection for Mugabe is equally rooted in the strong bonds of brotherhood that derived from his growing up, studying and teaching and by marrying a Ghanaian girl,” Rawlings said, referring to Mugabe’s first wife Sally who was from Ghana. Sally died in Harare in 1992 and was buried at the National Heroes Acre.

Samia Suluhu, the vice president of Tanzania also paid tribute to Mugabe and described him as an icon and luminary leader.

https://archive.shine.cn/world/Mugabe-honored-as-an-African-hero/shdaily.shtml

African leaders pay tribute to late Zimbabwe’s Mugabe at state funeral in Harare

Foreign dignitaries including former and current African leaders on Saturday paid tribute to the late former President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe at a state funeral in Harare.

Mugabe died in Singapore last week at the age of 95. Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for nearly four decades until he resigned in 2017, will be buried later at the National Heroes Acre in Harare after completion of a special mausoleum that is being built for him at the top of the shrine.

In his eulogy, Equatorial Guinea President Teodore Obiang Nguema said the whole of Africa was mourning the loss of a great fighter and a worthy combatant of Africa’s causes.

The whole of the African continent in general and particularly the people of Zimbabwe have lost a contemporary leader of this millennium. A true defender of human dignity all over the world and a strong defender of the sovereign rights of the people of Zimbabwe, he said.

Obiang was the last African leader to visit Mugabe four days before he passed on in Singapore.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Mugabe will be remembered as a pan-Africanist who selflessly dedicated his life to the emancipation of Zimbabwe and Africa.

“He was a visionary leader and relentless champion of African dignity. Mugabe has left an indelible mark in the history of Zimbabwe and African continent at large through his political astuteness and zeal for the economic and political liberation of Africa,” Kenyatta said.

He said keeping Mugabe’s dream of a truly free and prosperous Africa will be the most befitting tribute that Africa can pay to the departed African statesman.

Mugabe, Kenyatta said, was steadfast regarding Africa’s quest to address challenges facing the continent and he saluted his unwavering insistence that African problems demand African solutions.

He observed that Mugabe always championed African interests first and challenged African leaders to continue doing the same as a befitting tribute to Mugabe.

Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings said Mugabe was not only a teacher but an impressive moral campus.

“Our enduring affection for Mugabe is equally rooted in the strong bonds of brotherhood that derived from his growing up, studying and teaching and by marrying a Ghanaian girl,” Rawlings said, referring to Mugabe’s first wife Sally who was from Ghana. Sally died in Harare in 1992 and was buried at the National Heroes Acre.

Samia Suluhu, the vice president of Tanzania also paid tribute to Mugabe and described him as an icon and luminary leader.

“Today as we celebrated the life of Africa’s fallen giant who gave us pride and confidence, what remains with us is to continue where he ended, his spirit, determination and sense of humor will inspire us forever,” she said.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Mugabe stood by South Africa during the years it was fighting apartheid.

“Mugabe was a friend of the African National Congress. He stood by us during our darkest hour. Under his leadership, Zimbabwe gave us moral and material support when our people were suffering under the yoke of apartheid,” he said.

He was a committed pan-Africanist, unwavering in his belief and destiny and fortunes of Africa, Ramaphosa said.

Former Namibian president Sam Nujoma said Mugabe was a great freedom fighter who made great contribution to the total liberation of Africa.

Gu Shengzu, a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and also vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said China will fondly remember Mugabe’s great contribution to the all-round development of China-Zimbabwe and China-Africa ties.

The vice president of Cuba Ines Maria Chapman said Mugabe was a historical leader of Africa who worked tirelessly for the development of close ties between Zimbabwe and Cuba.

“Mugabe was a very good friend of Cuba and a good friend of our historical leader Fidel Castro,” she said.

She said under Mugabe’s leadership, cooperation between Zimbabwe and Cuba grew from strength to strength, particularly in the education and medical fields where exchange programs are continuing for knowledge and expertise sharing among peoples of the two nations.

She also noted that under Mugabe’s leadership, Zimbabwe continued to offer support and solidarity to Cuba in its struggle against the economic and financial blockage by the United States.

Russian ambassador to Zimbabwe also spoke at the funeral and pledged Russia’s continued support to the government of President Mnangagwa in its quest to rebuild the economy under Western sanctions.

http://www.china.org.cn/world/2019-09/15/content_75207178.htm

African leaders to pay tribute at Mugabe state funeral

Former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe will be given a state funeral on Saturday with a dozen African leaders expected to pay tribute to a man lauded as a colonial-era liberation hero.

Mugabe, who died last week in Singapore aged 95, left Zimbabwe torn over the legacy of his 37-year rule marked by brutal repression and economic crisis.

He died almost two years after former army loyalists forced him out in 2017, following a power struggle over what was widely perceived as his bid to have his wife Grace succeed him.

His body was returned from Singapore on Wednesday to a country divided and still struggling with inflation and the food and fuel shortages caused by decades of economic crisis.

“Despite certain misgivings, within certain quarters about his so-called mistakes… the government’s position is clear,” Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo told AFP. “The late President Mugabe is an icon.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and a dozen current and former African leaders are expected to attend Saturday’s official funeral at a Harare sports stadium.

But his final burial at a national monument will only happen after a new mausoleum is built, his family said.

While Mugabe ended white-minority rule and gave more access to education and public health to the poor black majority, he soon turned to fear and repression to govern.

Many Zimbabweans will remember Mugabe more for the economic mismanagement and increasingly tyrannical rule that followed the initial hope of liberation.

Millions fled the country during decades of crisis and hyperinflation and a brutal crackdown on dissidents at home.

Many are struggling to survive despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vows of more investment and jobs in the post-Mugabe era.

“Things were much better under Comrade Mugabe, prices of basics were lower,” said Daydream Goba, 27, using an affectionate term for Mugabe. “Now, we can barely manage.”

– Bitter legacy –

Always divisive in life, Mugabe’s funeral arrangements were also caught up in a dispute between Mnangagwa and the family over where and when the former leader should be buried.

The two parties on Friday finally agreed he would be buried at National Heroes Acre. But the final ceremony would take place in about 30 days, once the new mausoleum was built for him there.

His family are still bitter over the role Mnangagwa played in his ouster and had pushed for Mugabe to be buried in his homestead of Zvimba, northwest of Harare.

A former guerrilla who fought alongside Mugabe against colonial forces, Mnangagwa was fired as first vice president by Mugabe in 2017. Mugabe branded him a “traitor”.

Soon after, protesters and military officers pressured Mugabe to step down in what was widely seen as a struggle between Mnangagwa’s faction and loyalists to Grace inside the ruling ZANU-PF party.

The “heroes” monument, where more than 130 national figures are buried in black marble tombs, sits on a hilltop overlooking Harare. Mugabe’s first wife, Sally is also buried there.

https://www.afp.com/en/news/3954/african-leaders-pay-tribute-mugabe-state-funeral-doc-1k94uz2

Robert Mugabe polarises Zimbabwe even after death

imbabwe’s founder Robert Mugabe is proving as polarising in death as he was in life, with a fight over where he will be buried threatening to embarrass his successor and deepen divisions in the ruling ZANU-PF party.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government wants Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe from independence in 1980 until the November 2017 coup that ousted him, buried at a national monument to heroes of the liberation war against the white minority Rhodesian regime.

But some of Mugabe’s relatives have pushed back against that plan. They share Mugabe’s bitterness at the way former allies including Mnangagwa conspired to topple him and want him buried in his home village.

Mnangagwa has taken the threat to snub a burial at National Heroes Acre sufficiently seriously that he has dispatched a delegation to Singapore, where Mugabe died in a hospital on Friday, to negotiate with the family, government sources said.

The body is expected to arrive in Zimbabwe on Wednesday, adding time pressure to Mnangagwa, who is under fire over an economic crisis and clampdown on dissent that has drawn parallels with the worst excesses of the Mugabe era.

Both men have blamed Western sanctions and accused the United States and Britain of driving opposition protests.

“Mugabe has always been a controversial figure, in life as it is now in death,” said Eldred Masunungure, a politics professor at the University of Zimbabwe. “If the founding father of Zimbabwe wasn’t buried at National Heroes Acre, it would set a very bad precedent and tarnish the image of the head of state.”

In public, senior ZANU-PF officials express confidence that Mugabe will be buried at the monument on Sunday, after a state funeral in a sports stadium a day earlier. In private they say the feud with Mugabe’s family could have been handled better.

One factor that could help Mnangagwa’s delegation, which is led by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, is that Mugabe’s family is divided over where the former president should be laid to rest.

Leo Mugabe, Mugabe’s nephew, is leading a group of relatives who want the former president to buried in his home village of Kutama, some 85 km (52 miles) from Harare, two relatives who have attended planning meetings for Mugabe’s burial said.

That group is also backed by some members of the faction within ZANU-PF that is closely aligned with Mugabe’s wife Grace and wants to get back at Mnangagwa.

Other family members, including Mike Bimha, who is from Grace’s side of the family, think it would be best to mend ties with Mnangagwa by burying Mugabe at National Heroes Acre, the relatives said.

On Tuesday, a tour guide at the monument said he was sure Mugabe would be buried there. A place has been left next to his first wife Sally’s grave within the grandiose structure, which North Korean architects helped design soon after independence.

DIVIDED LAND

Mugabe left behind an economy wrecked by hyperinflation, dollarisation and deeply entrenched corruption, and a raging political rivalry between the country’s two largest political parties, ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC.

But many Zimbabweans also remember Mugabe as their country’s liberator from white minority rule and for broadening people’s access to education and land.

Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former deputy whose power base mainly lies in the military and security sectors, has tried to associate himself with the successes of the Mugabe era and distance himself from his ruinous economic legacy.

He used his powers as president to confer national hero status – Zimbabwe’s highest honour – on Mugabe within hours of his death, making him eligible to be buried at National Heroes Acre, which sits atop a ridge overlooking Harare.

Mugabe wielded those same powers to bestow or deny that privilege to dozens of his former comrades, so it would be highly incongruous for his family to refuse to bury him there.

The influential war veterans, who broke with Mugabe in 2016 and played a key role in bringing Mnangagwa to power, think it would be an affront to the liberation movement if Mugabe is not buried at the shrine.

“If Mugabe identifies with the sacrifices of the Zimbabwean people for whom he was president, he should go there,” chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association Chris Mutsvangwa told Reuters.

‘TROUBLED WATERS’

Mnangagwa’s government has not yet released an official programme for Mugabe’s burial.

But in a memo sent to embassies in Harare on Sunday it encouraged foreign heads of state to leave immediately after the funeral service wraps up on Saturday.

Ibbo Mandaza, a political analyst who is writing a biography of Mugabe, said Mnangagwa was trying to avoid the possibility of a situation where heads of state would attend a burial service in Mugabe’s home district to which he was not invited.

That is the dilemma Mnangagwa faces, he can’t be sleeping well,” Mandaza said.

A senior ZANU-PF politburo member, who requested anonymity to speak freely, said there were lessons to be learned.

“Probably President Mnangagwa should have persuaded and cajoled comrade Mugabe’s family more to avoid this dispute spilling into the public and embarrassing him and the party,” the politburo member said. Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba could not be reached for comment.

Yet analysts are not expecting the country’s opposition parties to be able to capitalise on the row, noting that cracks in the ruling party had opened and closed again previously.

If Mnangagwa persuades Mugabe’s family to bury him at National Heroes Acre, he will be able to use the occasion to cement his position as the country’s pre-eminent politician, politics professor Masunungure said.

“If Mnangagwa plays his cards well the departure of Mugabe is likely to consolidate his control.”

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/robert-mugabe-polarises-zimbabwe-even-after-death-1597843-2019-09-11

Ex-Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe’s final resting place remains a mystery

No “body” has any idea where Robert Mugabe is.

It’s unclear when the body of the ex-Zimbabwean dictator — who died Friday in Singapore after a lengthy illness — will be returned to the country for burial or where he will be interred, according to a report.

The African strongman was 95.

Mugabe’s remains were expected to be flown to South Africa Saturday before being brought to Zimbabwe. But it was unclear whether the dictator had even left Asia, Reuters reported.

After liberating Zimbabwe from colonial rule in 1980, Mugabe ruled the country as president-for-life for the next 37 years. During that time he presided over longterm economic collapse and hyperinflation.

He was finally ousted from power in 2017 by his own military over concerns he tried to install his second wife as his successor.

https://nypost.com/2019/09/07/ex-zimbabwean-dictator-robert-mugabes-final-resting-place-remains-a-mystery/

Robert Mugabe, controversial former Zimbabwe leader, dies at 95

Robert Mugabe, the former leader of Zimbabwe forced to resign in 2017 after a 37-year rule whose early promise was eroded by economic turmoil, disputed elections and human rights violations, has died. He was 95.

His successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed Mugabe’s death in a tweet Friday, mourning him as an “icon of liberation.” He did not provide details.

Mugabe, who took power after white minority rule ended in 1980, blamed Zimbabwe’s economic problems on international sanctions and once said he wanted to rule for life. But growing discontent about the southern African country’s fractured leadership and other problems prompted a military intervention, impeachment proceedings by the parliament and large street demonstrations for his removal.

The announcement of Mugabe’s Nov. 21, 2017 resignation after he initially ignored escalating calls to quit triggered wild celebrations in the streets of the capital, Harare. Well into the night, cars honked and people danced and sang in a spectacle of free expression that would have been impossible during his years in power and reflected hopes for a better future.

On Feb. 21, 2018, Mugabe marked his first birthday since his resignation in near solitude, far from the lavish affair of past years. While the government that removed him with military assistance had declared his birthday as a national holiday, his successor and former deputy Mnangagwa did not mention him in a televised speech on the day.

Mugabe’s decline in his last years as president was partly linked to the political ambitions of his wife, Grace, a brash, divisive figure whose ruling party faction eventually lost out in a power struggle with supporters of Mnangagwa, who was close to the military.

Despite Zimbabwe’s decline during his rule, Mugabe remained defiant, railing against the West for what he called its neo-colonialist attitude and urging Africans to take control of their resources, a populist message that was often a hit even as many nations on the continent shed the strongman model and moved toward democracy.

Mugabe enjoyed acceptance among peers in Africa who chose not to judge him in the same way as Britain, the United States and other Western detractors. Toward the end of his rule, he served as rotating chairman of the 54-nation African Union and the 15-nation Southern African Development Community; his criticism of the International Criminal Court was welcomed by regional leaders who also thought it was being unfairly used to target Africans.

“They are the ones who say they gave Christianity to Africa,” Mugabe said of the West during a visit to South Africa. “We say: ‘We came, we saw and we were conquered.'”

Spry in his impeccably tailored suits, Mugabe as leader maintained a schedule of events and international travel that defied his advancing age, though signs of weariness mounted toward the end. He fell after stepping off a plane in Zimbabwe, read the wrong speech at the opening of parliament and appeared to be dozing during a news conference in Japan. However, his longevity and frequently dashed rumors of ill health delighted supporters and infuriated opponents who had sardonically predicted he would live forever.

“Do you want me to punch you to the floor to realize I am still there?” Mugabe told an interviewer from state television who asked him in early 2016 about retirement plans.

After independence, Mugabe reached out to whites after a long war between black guerrillas and the white rulers of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known. He stressed education and built new schools. Tourism and mining flourished and Zimbabwe was a regional breadbasket.

However, a brutal military campaign waged against an uprising in western Matabeleland province that ended in 1987 augured a bitter turn in Zimbabwe’s fortunes. As the years went by, Mugabe was widely accused of hanging onto power through violence and vote fraud, notably in a 2008 election that led to a troubled coalition government after regional mediators intervened.

“I have many degrees in violence,” Mugabe once boasted on a campaign trail, raising his fist. “You see this fist, it can smash your face.”

Mugabe was re-elected in 2013 in another election marred by alleged irregularities, though he dismissed his critics as sore losers.

Amid the political turmoil, the economy of Zimbabwe, traditionally rich in agriculture and minerals, was deteriorating. Factories were closing, unemployment was rising and the country abandoned its currency for the US dollar in 2009 because of hyperinflation.

The economic problems are often traced to the violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms that began around 2000. Land reform was supposed to take much of the country’s most fertile land owned by about 4,500 white descendants of mainly British and South African colonial-era settlers and redistribute it to poor blacks. Instead, Mugabe gave prime farms to ruling party leaders, party loyalists, security chiefs, relatives and cronies.

Mugabe was born in Zvimba, 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of the capital of Harare. As a child, he tended his grandfather’s cattle and goats, fished for bream in muddy water holes, played football and “boxed a lot,” as he recalled later.

Mugabe lacked the easy charisma of Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader and contemporary who became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after reconciling with its former white rulers. But he drew admirers in some quarters for taking a hard line with the West, and he could be disarming despite his sometimes harsh demeanor.

“The gift of politicians is never to stop speaking until the people say, ‘Ah, we are tired,'” he said at a 2015 news conference. “You are now tired. I say thank you.”

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/former-zimbabwe-president-robert-mugabe-dies-at-95-1596165-2019-09-06

Zimbabwe ex-President Robert Mugabe dies aged 95

Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said. 

“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe,” Mnangagwa posted on Twitter early on Friday.

“His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” he added.

After Mugabe’s fall from office in November 2017, his renowned physical stamina seemed to seep away.

The former political prisoner turned guerrilla leader swept to power in the 1980 elections after a growing rebellion and economic sanctions forced the white minority colonial government to the negotiating table.

Born on February 21, 1924, into a Catholic family at Kutama Mission northwest of Harare, Mugabe was described as a loner and a studious child, known to carry a book even while tending cattle in the bush.

After his carpenter father left the family when he was 10, the young Mugabe concentrated on his studies, qualifying as a schoolteacher at the age of 17.

An intellectual who initially embraced Marxism, he enrolled at Fort Hare University in South Africa, meeting many of Southern Africa’s future black nationalist leaders.

After teaching in Ghana, where he was influenced by founder president Kwame Nkrumah, Mugabe returned to what was then Rhodesia, where he was detained for his nationalist activities in 1964 and spent the next 10 years in prison camps or jail.

During his incarceration, he gained three degrees through correspondence, but the years in prison were wrenching.

Mugabe’s four-year-old son by his first wife, Ghanaian-born Sally Francesca Hayfron, died while he was behind bars. Rhodesian leader Ian Smith denied him leave to attend the funeral.

He once famously said that he’d rule his country until he turned 100, and many expected him to die in office. But growing discontent about the southern African country’s fractured leadership and other problems prompted a military intervention, impeachment proceedings by the parliament and large street demonstrations for his removal.

The announcement of Mugabe’s November 21, 2017 resignation after he initially ignored escalating calls to quit triggered wild celebrations in the streets of the capital, Harare.

Mugabe’s decline in his last years as president was partly linked to the political ambitions of his wife, Grace, a brash, divisive figure whose ruling party faction eventually lost out in a power struggle with supporters of Mnangagwa, who was close to the military.

Despite Zimbabwe’s decline during his rule, Mugabe remained defiant, railing against the West for what he called its neo-colonialist attitude and urging Africans to take control of their resources, a populist message that was often a hit even as many nations on the continent shed the strongman model and moved toward democracy.

Mugabe enjoyed acceptance among peers in Africa who chose not to judge him in the same way as Britain, the United States and other Western detractors.

Toward the end of his rule, he served as rotating chairman of the 54-nation African Union and the 15-nation Southern African Development Community; his criticism of the International Criminal Court was welcomed by regional leaders who also thought it was being unfairly used to target Africans.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/zimbabwe-president-robert-mugabe-dies-aged-95-190906050943163.html