The African National Congress mourns the passing of our brother Comrade President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who passes away having devoted his life to the service of his country and his people.
In his Independence Day speech delivered on March 6, 1957, the father of Ghana’s independence, Kwame Nkrumah delivered the rousing words that went on to nourish and sustain the hopes of all Africans who at the time yearned for independence and self-determination.
“We have awakened..we will not sleep anymore. Today, from now on, there is a new African in the world.”
“The new Africa “is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.”
The life of Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe came to epitomize the ‘new African’ – who having shrugged off the colonial yoke, would strive to ensure his country took its rightful place amongst the community of nations: firmly in charge of its own destiny.
Born on 21 February 1924, Comrade Mugabe led the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in the Second Chimurenga: the war against white minority rule in the then-Rhodesia during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The revolutionary struggle of ZANU-PF was an inspiration to the then-banned and suppressed African National Congress (ANC) who was fighting the apartheid government in South Africa.
A trained teacher, Comrade Mugabe was held as a political prisoner by the racist Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith between 1964 and 1974. His prison years came at a great personal cost, much like that of his long-time comrade and friend the late Comrade Nelson Mandela: his wife was arrested and his child died whilst he was in prison.
As one of the key negotiators of the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement that paved the way for Zimbabwe’s independence, Comrade Mugabe was at the time an ardent supporter of national reconcilation between black and white Zimbabweans. In the early days of Zimbwean indepence he extended the olive branch to his white countrymen: saying famously: “Stay with us, please remain in this country and constitute a nation based on national unity.”
Comrade Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF has over the years been a longstanding friend and supporter of the African National Congress (ANC), from the exile years through to democracy. Our fraternal relations, grounded in the mutual aspirations of human rights, political dignity and social justice – have endured over the years.
Throughout his life, the late Comrade Mugabe as an ardent and vocal advocate of African unity and self-reliance and will always be remembered for his rallying cry: “Africa is for Africans, Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans.” He was elected Chairperson of the African Union in 2015 – having led the OAU (the forerunner to the AU) between 1997 and 1998.
Though the ANC and its leadership may have differed, often vociferously, with Comrade Mugabe on matters of national interest – as fraternal organizations we held as sacrosanct the principle of sovereignty. History alone will be the decider over whether the courses of action taken by leaders in the interests of their countrymen, were the correct ones. We remember the immortal words of William Shakespeare, that the deeds men do live after them, and yet “the good is oft interred with their bones.”
To the Mugabe family, we extend our heartfelt condolences.
To our friends in ZANU-PF be comforted that you have lost a leader whose service to his country will forever be inscribed. We mourn with you the passing of our friend, statesman, leader, revolutionary.