Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema has hailed former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe as a hero and a martyr, following his death in the early hours of Friday morning.
Malema said this was despite the mistakes Mugabe made.
"Sometimes matters are complex and the solutions that you are providing might not be sustainable or acceptable solutions when history is giving an account of what transpired in the past. We don’t know what necessitated such conditions and we may not want to justify, especially the killing the [Ndebele] people, the young people and the women," he said.
"It does not make you a lesser hero because of the mistakes you have committed during the course of conducting the revolution."
Malema said Mugabe was a "hero of the people" and had remained so "to the grave".
"President Mugabe will be remembered as a hero because, even when he was in office, he never compromised fundamentals. Amongst those fundamentals was the ownership of the land.
"It was under him that the indigenous people of Zimbabwe were beginning to own strategic sectors of the economy," Malema said.
The passing of Mugabe has elicited a mixed reaction among people, with some saying Mugabe ruled by fear.
'We must remain principled to the grave'
Malema emphasised that Mugabe’s party, Zanu-PF, was elected by the people.
"President Mugabe and his party still enjoy popularity in Zimbabwe. You can say whatever you want to say about the election outcome, but ultimately we all have accepted that this is what it is for the people of Zimbabwe.
"Everyone should give their own account and interpretation of Mugabe’s leadership style. For us in the EFF and for many in South Africa he remains an inspiration, particularly for those of us who were involved in a revolution."
Malema said there were many valuable lessons that South Africa could learn from Zimbabwe.
"All of us accept that there are challenges within Zimbabwe, the same way there are challenges in many other African countries… We must remain loyal to our own policies and decisions," he said.
"We must not be wishy-washy, we must not change positions as we go because of political expediency. We must remain principled until the grave.
"History will absolve Robert Mugabe," Malema said.
News24 asked Zimbabweans living in SA for their thoughts on the leadership of the former president.
'He liberated us'
Ephraim Patsanza said, while his tenure had been a controversial one, especially towards his last days in office, Mugabe had been a fighter for his country and Africans.
"He was there to defend the legacies and history of African people, which I think should not go unnoticed," Patsanza said.
"I will not say he did not do anything for Zimbabweans. We still need to give him credit. He liberated us."
One man told News24 that Mugabe’s passing brought back memories of how his nation was suffering, resulting in people like him moving to foreign countries.
Another said Mugabe "caused us a lot of trouble".
"If it was not for Mugabe, we would not have been here. We are here because of Robert Mugabe!"
Following a wave of attacks on foreigners, another man said Mugabe would have highly condemned the acts and "fought for [them]".
"He was a brave leader, who was not scared to confront any situation that threatens him or his children. Most definitely he was going to say something so that we can be protected."