Mugabe, great symbol of African liberation struggle —Anyaoku

•Buhari, Obasanjo, Atiku mourn ex-Zimbabwean president

Former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has described former President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe as one of the great symbols of African liberation struggle.

Mugabe died in the early hours of Friday in Singapore at the age of 95.

Chief Anyaoku, while reacting to Mugabe’s death, on Friday, said he was close to the ex-Zimbabwean president till the end of his tenure as Commonwealth Secretary-General in 2000.

“I first met Robert Mugabe in 1976 in Geneva as leader of his liberation party, ZANU, at the unsuccessful conference initiated by the then British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, to explore agreement between the Rhodesian white minority regime of Ian Smith and the liberation parties led by Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo and Ndabaningi Sithole.

“I was then Assistant Commonwealth Secretary-General. And I associated closely with him from 1980 when he began his leadership of independent Zimbabwe up to the end of my 10-year tenure as Commonwealth Secretary-General in 2000.

“Robert Mugabe will be remembered by many as among the great symbols of African liberation struggle.

“He was in the early years of his leadership of Zimbabwe an undoubted promoter of the welfare and rights of his people, who had suffered oppression and land sequestration under the white minority regimes of Rhodesia.

“Those were the years when he hosted and presided over the adoption of the Harare Commonwealth Declaration in 1991 at a meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government.

“But as he overstayed his time as president, he began to pursue policies that negated his earlier stance on discipline and respect of human rights; hence the evident celebration by his compatriots of his overthrow and replacement by Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2017,” Chief Anyaoku said.


Buhari mourns, too

Also, President Muhammadu Buhari, on behalf of the Federal Government, sent condolences to the government and people of Zimbabwe over the passing of Mugabe.

A statement issued in Abuja on Friday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the president commiserated with family members, friends and political associates of the political activist who fought for the independence of the country from colonial rule, and lived most of his life in public service.


Mugabe, indomitable fighter for liberation of Zimbabwe –Obasanjo

In the same vein, former President Olusegun Obasanjo described the late Mugabe as an indomitable fighter who contributed to the liberation of his country from apartheid and oppressive radicalism.

Obasanjo, in a letter to President Emmerson Manangagwa of Zimbabwe, a copy which was made available to newsmen in Abeokuta on Friday through his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, commiserated with Mugabe’s family and the people of Zimbabwe.

He said he received the news of the elder statesman’s death with sadness.

“The news of former President Robert G. Mugabe’s death in Singapore, in the early hours of today (Friday), was received by me with immense sadness indeed.

“It is, therefore, with a profound sense of sympathy that I write, on behalf of myself and my family, to commiserate with you and the entire good people of Zimbabwe over the painful transition of former President Robert Mugabe.

“The former President of Zimbabwe was a frontline leader, activist, an indomitable fighter for the liberation of Zimbabwe from apartheid and oppressive racialism, a statesman par excellence and a tireless advocate of the preservation of the mystique of Africa’s moral and cultural values,” he said.


Atiku eulogises him

Also, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described Mugabe as a hero.

In a statement personally signed by him, the Waziri Adamawa said: “No man is perfect and he had his flaws, but nobody can take this fact away from him: that he loved his country and its people, and took practical and patriotic steps to improve their well being.

“Mr Mugabe gave Zimbabwe freedom, which in itself is commendable. Yet, he gave them something greater than freedom. He gave them education. His razor like focus on investing in education resulted in Zimbabwe having the highest adult literacy rate in Africa. One can even say he emancipated the minds of Zimbabweans. Other African leaders can learn from him in this regard.

“As he passes away aged 95, Robert Mugabe lived a long life and cast an even longer shadow. His footsteps in the sands of times are indelible even as they are very far reaching. As African leaders, we have a lot to learn from his many successes, and even more to learn from his inevitable mistakes.”