Some of the world’s most authoritarian nations offered condolences to the government of Zimbabwe over the death of leftist mass murderer Robert Mugabe on Friday, who ruled the country for 37 years before being ousted in a coup in 2017.
During his tenure, Mugabe was a loyal ally to communist nations around the world including Cuba, North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union. Far-left leaders in Africa and around the world celebrated the “comrade” despite his record of genocide, political repression, and mass starvation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the first to issue a statement following Mugabe’s death.
“Many important dates in Zimbabwe’s modern history are tied to the name of Robert Mugabe. He made a great personal contribution to the battle for your country’s independence, to the building of Zimbabwean state institutions,” Putin said, noting that Mugabe maintained “friendly relations” with Putin.
Mugabe led a bloody revolution against the white then-Prime Minister Ian Smith of Rhodesia, the nation that would become Zimbabwe, garnering support by branding himself a liberator of Africans suffering under an anachronistic British leftover political system. Mugabe earned praise before embarking on the Gukurahundi genocide of 1983, designed to eliminate resistance to Mugabe and his Shona tribe from the Ndebele people who are also indigenous to Zimbabwe.
Using an elite force of military killers trained by North Korea, Mugabe is believed to be behind the killing of at least 20,000 people. Having consolidated his power, Mugabe used it to offer international support for the world’s communists, from those in South Africa to communist rulers across the planet in China and Cuba.
Despite the mass extermination of black people that allowed him to stay in power for nearly 40 years, African leaders applauded his tenure on Friday.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari – who became the nation’s president in 2015 after being its dictator in the 1980s – hailed Mugabe through a statement from spokesman Femi Adesina.
“President Buhari believes Mugabe’s sacrifices, especially in struggling for the political and economic emancipation of his people, will always be remembered by posterity,” Adesina said. “He, however, prayed that the Almighty God will grant the soul of the former president rest and comfort his loved ones.”
“South Africans join the people and government of Zimbabwe in mourning the passing of a liberation fighter and champion of Africa’s cause against colonialism,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his statement. “Under President Mugabe’s leadership, Zimbabwe’s sustained and valiant struggle against colonialism inspired our own struggle against apartheid and built in us the hope that one day South Africa too would be free.”
“Comrade Mugabe was an outstanding revolutionary, a tenacious freedom fighter, and a dedicated Pan Africanist,” said the president of Namibia, Hage Geingob. “He made enormous sacrifices in the struggle against injustice and the liberation of Southern Africa from racial subjugation and colonial oppression.”
The government of Iran, which maintains friendly ties to all communist dictatorships, also offered its condolences.
“Mugabe after Zimbabwe’s independence continued to stand firm in defense of his country’s national sovereignty against foreign interference,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi told reporters, thanking Mugabe for his support of the Islamic regime. Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported that Mousavi referred to Mugabe as a “hero.”
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called Mugabe “exceptional.”
“Mr. Robert Mugabe was an exceptional leader of the national liberation movement and politician of Zimbabwe, who spent his lifetime safeguarding national sovereignty and independence, opposing external interferences and promoting the friendly cooperative relationship between China and Zimbabwe and the other parts of Africa,” Geng told reporters. “We deeply mourn his passing and extend sincere condolences to the Zimbabwean government and people as well as his family.”
The Castro regime in Cuba did not issue a Foreign Ministry statement because it had Deputy Foreign Minister Marcelino Medina Gonzalez in Harare meeting with high-ranking officials at the time.
Medina reportedly offered “condolences and solidarity” to the ruling Zanu-PF party, to which Mugabe belonged but which also ousted him in 2017 with the support of the military. Medina is in Zimbabwe to reportedly improve bilateral ties and will conduct a four-nation tour of Africa before he returns to Havana.
The Venezuelan socialist regime, which operates as a proxy of Cuba’s, has not at press time issued an official statement of condolence, nor has North Korea’s. Venezuela’s state-owned broadcaster VTV, however, did publish an article stating that “many consider him a hero who ended the rule of the white minority in the African nation.”
At home, current President Emmerson Mnangagwa – Mugabe’s former vice president who orchestrated a coup against him – called Mugabe “an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people.”
Mugabe likely died a billionaire; his net worth at the time of his ouster in 2017 was estimated to be over $1 billion. As part of his agreement with Mnangagwa post-coup, the Zimbabwean taxpayer was responsible for paying for the salaries of at least 20 caretakers, three luxury vehicles, up to four international flights on private jets, and a “reasonable” mansion.