Amnesty International says former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who led the country for almost four decades, inflicted lasting damage on Zimbabweans and left an indelible stain on his country’s human rights record.
Mugabe died on Friday in Singapore at the age of 95.
The rights group said during his 37 years in power, Mugabe presided over the brutal repression of political opponents and established a culture of impunity for himself and his cronies, while his government implemented a series of policies that have had disastrous consequences.
“While casting himself as the savior of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe inflicted lasting damage upon its people and its reputation,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa.
Amnesty, noted that during Mugabe’s early years as leader of Zimbabwe, following the transition from British colonial rule, there were notable achievements through his heavy investment in social services. Areas including health and education saw dramatic improvements, with the country still enjoying one of the highest literacy rates in Africa.
But in later years, Mugabe eroded his own track record with the messy implementation of the land reform programme, crackdown on critics as well as spikes in serious human rights violations and abuses by state security agents.
“Whenever Mugabe felt under pressure he defaulted to sanctioning human rights violations, publicly defending the actions of his officials’,” said Muleya Mwananyanda.
Amnesty then urged the current Zimbabwean leaders to forge a national healing programme, beginning with accountability for the past human rights violations.