Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has died. Picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Zimbabwe’s founding post-independence leader former President Robert Mugabe has passed away on Friday morning in Singapore.

He was 95 years old.

The former president had been battling poor health for some time

It was announced by the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa two weeks ago that doctors in Singapore who had been treating him there since April had discontinued his treatment.

Mnangagwa shared the news of Mugabe's death on Twitter.

It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe (1/2)

— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) September 6, 2019

"Cde Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace."

Mnangagwa is currently attending the World Economic Forum in Cape Town and will travel back to Zimbabwe. 

Mugabe, who became Zimbabwe's first black leader at independence from Britain in 1980, first as prime minister and then as president from 1987, was once touted for investing heavily in health and education in the early years of his rule, leaving his country with one of the highest literacy rates in Africa.

He however became increasingly unpopular as the economy began to wane, later facing charges of cracking down on his political opponents and rigging elections to stay in power. 

His government's controversial programme of seizing white owned commercial farms for redistribution among blacks he said had been dispossessed of the land during colonialism triggered a sharp economic meltdown in 2000, from which Zimbabwe has never recovered.

He stepped down under military pressure in November 2017 amid infighting within his ruling Zanu-PF party which saw his deputy Mnangagwa, who was in a rival faction, take over as president.

IOL and African News Agency (ANA)

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