'Everyone dying except that ONE guy': Long-suffering Zimbabweans react to Castro's death

2016-11-26 12:19
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.  (File: AP)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. (File: AP)

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Harare - "That's the wrong one!"

Zimbabweans on Saturday looked over to Cuba, where Fidel Castro's death has just been confirmed, with (mainly) one thought in mind: when will President Robert Mugabe die too?

After all, Mugabe at 92 is two years older than his friend and ally Castro was. And the Zimbabwean leader's health has, like Castro's, long been the subject of speculation. 

Tweeted one Zimbabwean, expressing a sentiment that was, apparently, widely shared: "Castro dies and God is just ignoring Zimbabweans' prayers just like that. Everyone dying except that one guy." 

It was a regret that was echoed outside Zimbabwe, with @Munexy in Pretoria saying: "So Fidel Castro finally dies, time for Mugabe to go as well."

Zimbabwe's long-running economic and political crisis has been felt well beyond its borders, with well over a million Zimbabweans (out of a population of between 13 and 14 million) now living outside the southern African country. Britain's Daily Mail writer Guy Adams tweeted: "Good news about Castro. One brings two, so how about Mugabe?"

See all tweets below.

There were of course Zimbabweans who did not see Castro's death as an opportunity to hanker after Mugabe's. The longtime Zimbabwe leader (he has been in power since independence in 1980) still has many supporters inside the country: a by-election was on Saturday being held in Chimanimani, a mountainous district in eastern Zimbabwe, that Zanu-PF is widely slated to win (though independent observers have noted intimidation of voters in this constituency). As Cuba did in the 1960s, Mugabe launched a controversial agrarian reform programme in Zimbabwe starting in 2000.

@TitusGwemende paid tribute to Castro's support for African liberation movements, saying: "Without Fidel Castro, many African countries would have found it harder to execute the liberation struggle. We are grateful." 

Development and governance expert Brian Tamuka Kagoro said: "We don't idolise Fidel Castro, we remember his solidarity with the peoples of Africa and our liberation and development efforts."

Zanu-PF officials expressed sadness over Castro's death, with higher education minister Jonathan Moyo calling him "The Giant." Psychology Maziwisa, a ruling party MP said Castro would be "sorely missed."

Mugabe and Castro: a long-running alliance

Mugabe met Castro in Ethiopia in 1978: the pair firmed up plans for Cuban advisers to train Zimbabwean troops based in Mozambique, Angola and Ethiopia.

Thereafter Mugabe made at least seven visits to Cuba, including trips in 2002, 2005 and 2009.

In May 2015, Zimbabwe state media claimed Mugabe was "a hero in Cuba".     

French magazine JeuneAfrique called Mugabe "Africa's Castro" in 2015.

Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  jonathan moyo  |  psychology maziwisa  |  robert mugabe  |  fidel castro  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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