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Zimbabweans hail Mugabe as liberation icon.

The recent death of Zimbabwe's founding father, liberator and former statesmen, Robert Mugabe has been met with different reactions by people from different walks of life.

BOPA reporter, Mooketsi Mojalemotho, over the weekend, took to the hustle and bustle of the city of Francistown, particularly Haskins Street, commonly referred to as Bulawayo, from where Zimbabwean nationals often procure household items to hear their opinions about the passing of the 95-year-old, who ruled the erstwhile Southern Africa bread basket from 1980 until 2018.

Fifty-one-year old Benjamin Machikicha from Bohera District near Mutare described President Mugabe as the founding father. This, he noted, is despite the horrible mistakes that saw the promising democracy plummet over the years, with Robert Mugabe at the helm.

"That will not take away the fact that he was our founding father and he will go down memory lane as an icon to the liberation of the nation of Zimbabwe.

We are mourning the passing away of our father," he said.

Mr Carlsberry Manomano, 52, who hails from Mashonaland East, remembers the late Mugabe as a liberator, who has done a great deal of good for the nation of Zimbabwe for years on end.

Also, he recalls, like it was yesterday, the many blunders President Mugabe committed during his reign.

One thing that stands out for Mr Manomano was Mugabe's penchant for education.

"At independence, we only had one university, which is the University of Zimbabwe and thanks to Mugabe's commitment, things took a positive turn and now almost every province has a university," he said.

According to Mr Manomano, Mugabe took it upon himself to transform the Zimbabwean education system and moved swiftly to upgrade it through the introduction of smart education policies.

"I remember that in 1984, he introduced secondary schools which were called 'uppertops', meaning primary schools were upgraded into secondary schools and this accorded a lot of students a chance to be integrated into secondary school education.

He further said that at the time, even primary school education was free and everybody was forced to go to school, especially primary level.

The high literacy levels in Zimbabwe, he stated, will remain among the many legacies that President Mugabe will be remembered for.

"In totality, Mugabe is remembered very well.

He did a lot and of course he committed mistakes along the way, but I believe the negatives are overshadowed by the positive things he did during his era.

My honest opinion, I believe clinging onto power against everybody's advice was the old man's main undoing.

His legacy would not have been as tainted," he said, adding that Mugabe was an assertive fellow who would take advantage of any given platform to voice out his views without fear or favour on any subject.

Also, he said, Mugabe had instilled the good virtue of hard work and principle of self-reliance among his people, whom he said do not wait for hand-outs from elsewhere to survive.

Zimbabweans, he said, even after acquiring education, do not look for anybody to employ them, rather, they think outside the box to make ends meet.

Mr Charles Jimu from Harare says although along in years, the nonagenarian's passing had brought sadness to Zimbabwe.

He remembers Mugabe's heroic acts to liberate Zimbabwe from the clutches of colonialism, efforts that ultimately paid off and birthed independent Zimbabwe in 1980.

Like many of his countrymen, Mr Jimu is thankful that Mugabe's legacy had imparted to the people of Zimbabwe sound education and skills, which they are now using to survive.

To Melody Mhere, 39, from Harare, Mugabe's passing leaves behind a mixed bag of both the good and the bad.

Asked how she thinks the old man would have reacted to the recent spades of xenophobic attacks of fellow black African people by South Africans, Ms Mhere relayed Mugabe would have taken none of it.

"He would have categorically condemned the acts as inhumane, foreign and a departure of grand scale from the spirit of Ubuntu and Pan-Africanism ideology that has held Africans together for many years,' she said.

President Emmerson Munangagwa of Zimbabwe had said when announcing the death of Robert Mugabe that the passing on of the founding father of Zimbabwe in Singapore had left a big void on the nation.

The late guerilla leader and liberation hero is credited for leading the former British colony, Rhodesia to independence in 1980.

Although widely celebrated for his role in the white supremacist regime in his homeland, Mugabe's final years as President of Zimbabwe were characterised by the infamous economic collapse.

He was removed from power in 2017 and replaced by Mnangagwa.

Preparations for the burial of Mugabe are ongoing.
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Publication:Botswana Daily News (Gaborone, Botswana)
Geographic Code:6ZIMB
Date:Sep 10, 2019
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