UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says Robert Mugabe’s role “in ensuring the independence of Zimbabwe and in the fight against apartheid are key parts of his legacy”.
Guterres stated this in a letter of condolence to be sent to the Government of Zimbabwe over the death of the former president, according to UN spokesman, Mr Stéphane Dujarric.
“The Secretary-General would be sending a letter to the Government of Zimbabwe offering condolences to the government and people of Zimbabwe on the death of former President Robert Mugabe.
“He also offers his condolences to the families and loved ones of the former,” Dujarric told UN corresponds in New York on Friday.
Aged 95, Mugabe died on Thursday in a hospital in Singapore where he had been receiving treatment since April, media reports say.
The former leader spent 37 years in power before he was ousted by the country’s military in what many describe as a coup in 2017.
Initially praised as an “African liberation hero and champion of racial reconciliation”, Mugabe’s later years in power were denounced as violent, corrupt and oppressive.
While in power, the former president was a regular participant in meetings and conferences at the UN, according to Dujarric, who has served under several Secretaries-General.
“President Mugabe was very often here at the General Assembly and always had meetings with various Secretaries-General.
“From my standpoint, President Mugabe also made notable contributions while chairing organisations such as the African Union and SADC (Southern African Development Community)”, he added.
Recall that one of Mugabe’s remarkable outings at the UN came during the 2017 edition of the General Assembly.
He was spotted dozing as U.S. President Donal Trump delivered his address, before attacking Trump when it was his turn to speak later.
In his address, Mugabe lashed out at Trump on several issues, describing the U.S. president as “giant gold Goliath”, and urging him to promote peace.
“Some of us were embarrassed if not frightened by what appeared to be the return of the biblical giant gold Goliath.
“Are we are having the return of Goliath to our midst who is threatening the extinction of other countries?
“May I say today, the President of the United States Mr Trump; please blow your trumpet.
“Blow your trumpet in a musical way towards the values of unity, peace, cooperation, togetherness, dialogue, which we have always stood for and which is in the charter of the United Nations,” Mugabe said.
Two years earlier, Trump’s immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, also received some jabs from Mugabe following America’s decision to legalise gay marriage.
During his weekly interview with the national radio station, the late Zimbabwean president joked that he planned to travel to Washington to ask Obama’s “hand in marriage”.
He said: “I’ve just concluded – since President Obama endorses the same-sex marriage, advocates homosexual people and enjoys an attractive countenance – thus if it becomes necessary, I shall travel to Washington, DC, get down on my knee and ask his hand.”