Zimbabwe President Mugabe has broken his silence on the death of former SA president Nelson Mandela offering condolences to South Africa and the Mandela family at the loss.
In the written statement released friday night, the Zimbabwean leader described Mandela as a champion of the oppressed whose committement to liberation would be cherished always by Zimbabwe.
The statement addressed to President Jacob Zuma also described Mandela as a great icon of African liberation and an unflinching fighter for justice.
Mugabe said Mandela’s ‘renowned and illustrious political life will forever remain a beacon of excellence’, describing him as not only a great champion of the emancipation of the oppressed, but he also a humble and compassionate leader who showed selfless dedication to the service of his people.
“…I would like to extend deep condolences to you and through you to the government and people of the Republic of South Africa, on the death of the great icon of African liberation, freedom fighter and the first President of a free, independent and democratic South Africa, Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela…,” he wrote.
“Not only was he a great champion of the emancipation of the oppressed, but he also was a humble and compassionate leader who showed selfless dedication to the service of his people.”
He continued, “We join the rest of the nation in mourning his departure. The late Nelson Mandela will forever remain in our minds as an unflinching fighter for justice.”
He asked Zuma to convey the message to the family of Mandela, who died on Thursday December 5. Ties between Zimbabwe and South Africa run “long and deep” and after independence in 1980, Zimbabwe hosted South African liberation fighters and supported its struggle against apartheid.
It said that according to former SA president Thabo Mbeki, Zimbabwe delayed its land reform revolution so that apartheid could be dealt with first. – additional reporting by Sapa