Zimbabweans were saddened by the news that their former President Robert Mugabe died aged 95, but for residents in Johannesburg, it was an atmosphere of mixed reactions.
Mugabe, the bush war guerrilla leader who led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980 and crushed his foes during nearly four decades of rule as his country descended into poverty, hyperinflation and unrest was a controversial figure.
He was one of the most polarising figures in the history of his continent, a giant of Africa’s liberation struggle against colonialism, whose rule finally ended in ignominy when he was overthrown by his own army.
A resident of Zimbabwe, Rosemary Moyo, said: “I think President Mugabe was a leader. Since he was voted to be the president of Zimbabwe he led Zimbabwe in a right way – we say may his soul rest in peace. He was someone who was a man of his words, he could do the right thing. Although in some things he did the things not in a good way, like the land reform program, to me it wasn’t in a good thing.”
Another resident, Amos Chirakwa, said “You know this is sad news, we lost a good father. Mugabe was alright but this Emmerson Mnangwagwa is not alright, he is not alright. I tell you the truth, Mnangwagwa is not alright but Mugabe was a good father to us.”
“We grew up knowing Mugabe liberated our country but now things are hard, I am so sad that he passed away, may he rest in peace,”Cynthia Shando said.
A Zimbabwean living in South Africa, Gift Borephe said: “I’m shocked my man. I honestly cannot believe it. Truth be told Robert Mugabe is one of my idols, you know, Robert Mugabe, Hitler and Napoleon, for my reasons you know. But I’m actually surprised, I’m take by… I’m shocked.”
Similarly, Tshiamo Moeng, said: “He was just a bad leader. He was an all-around bad leader. So, I don’t know how to feel about his passing, I mean at the end of the day he was still a human. You have to respect that fact. But, yeah I don’t know how to feel about his passing at all.”
On his part, Lesego Maumakwe said: “He didn’t want to give other people a chance – that’s my biggest thing. Now we have a huge problem just because he couldn’t control his people, ok? So yeah, it was time. It was time.”
Kevin Motha said: “He was a political leader and he did his part. So emotionally shame, nothing. But politically yes, he had his views and unfortunately not most of us agreed with it. He was not so good to his people. I hope that now he has passed on Zimbabwe will now be able to be the country that it was supposed to be and participate in the economy as it was supposed to.”
Lebogang Lekala, a Uber driver said: “It’s very sad for such a person like Mugabe to pass on, he was an African icon hey, in terms of the things that he has done in Zim and then what he really achieved and stuff. So, it’s very sad, very sad for Africa.”
Adding to his voice to the death of Mugabe, Loius Rikhotso said: “He was a dictator to others, he was a hero to others. He has done a lot for other people but other people think he was a bad guy. So, yeah there is a different reaction to different people.”