Robert Mugabe's decision to invest in his country's education while he was the president of Zimbabwe helped the nation even after the collapse of its economy, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said on Friday.
Mugabe, who was ill, died at the age of 95 while receiving treatment at a Singapore hospital.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangangwa confirmed the news in a tweet early on Friday morning.
Sending his condolences to the people of Zimbabwe, as well as the Mugabe family, Holomisa said it was a pity that the project of former president Nelson Mandela and Mugabe, to liberate their people from poverty, wasn't successful.
"It would appear that also here at home, we are following in their footsteps. May his soul rest in peace."
He told News24 the Swati king introduced him to Mugabe during his coronation.
'We owe a lot to Mugabe'
"He introduced me to all of the frontline state leaders and those leaders were curious because Transkei was assisting in liberating South Africa. After that, I met him in a number of forums and I remember a time I met him while accompanying Nelson Mandela in Masina."
Meanwhile, the EFF said Mugabe's legacy was refusing to give up the birthright of his people to their land.
In a statement, the EFF praised Mugabe for his firm resolve on land in his country.
The party conveyed its condolences to South Africa's northern neighbour.
EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said under Mugabe, Zimbabwe's land reform programme was suspended to allow South Africa to peacefully make a transition to democracy.
"As a people, we owe a lot of our own democratic freedoms to the leadership of [former] president Mugabe."