Former Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille commented on the passing of Zimbabwe’s founding president Robert Mugabe, highlighting what she saw as the irony of him having died in a Singapore hospital.
This was by way of a reaction to a tweet from DA MP Ghaleb Cachalia, who made it clear that he would not be mourning the passing of the liberation hero turned despot.
“When dictators die, I shed no tears. Especially those who murdered tens if thousands, and ruined their countries with disastrous policies. Even if they were the ‘liberators’ from another extractive regime, they are guilty of much, and can claim little respect,” Cachalia tweeted.
Zille, who is currently a policy fellow at classical liberal think-tank the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) following the end of her tenure as Western Cape premier, soon added her own opinion to Cachalia’s on Twitter.
“And the ultimate irony is that after destroying his country’s infrastructure, including the nascent health system, he apparently died in Singapore. This is the place from which South Africans mourning Mugabe’s death think we have nothing to learn,” she said.
And the ultimate irony is that after destroying his country's infrastructure, including the nascent health system, he apparently died in Singapore. This is the place from which South Africans mourning Mugabe's death think we have nothing to learn. https://t.co/zPpvohALcz
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) September 6, 2019
Zille’s point about Mugabe’s death in a Singapore hospital and his impact on the country’s health system was also made independently by other people on the social media platform.
African Leaders Will Have Health Crisis And Be Rushed Down To Either America, Europe For Treatment. Ali Bongo, Pmb, Mugabe, Paul Biya Etc. Mugabe Died In Singapore After Running Zimbabwe Like His Personal Empire For 30 Years But Couldn't Build A World Class Hospital! #RIPMugabe
— Mukhtar (@IMUKHTY) September 6, 2019
— Prince Harry's second home (@africasacountry) September 6, 2019
Mugabe is testimony that it's not how well you start but how great you finish. He who started out as a hero, an icon, a liberator, dies an outcast in a Singapore hospital for his 4 decades of tyranny left Zimbabwe a country without a single hospital that could tend to his health. pic.twitter.com/Rrrj1hXM2U
— Haytham Bhalo (@HaythamBhalo) September 6, 2019
Robert Mugabe has died. There are many things to be said about his life. But let me observe that he died in a Singapore hospital. Does it mean that in his rule of Zimbabwe of close to 3 decades, the statesman didn't build one hospital worthy dying from? #Africa #RIPMugabe
— Mr. Stacks (@katebechungu) September 6, 2019
Mugabe passed away in a hospital in Singapore after a long battle with ill health. He turned 95 in February.
Zimbabwe’s public health services have practically collapsed, and those who can afford it seek treatment in South Africa or further abroad. Mugabe during his time in power sought almost all his medical care in Singapore.
In 2017, Mugabe was chosen as the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) goodwill ambassador, sparking outrage which then led to his removal by the WHO, a United Nations-run (UN) agency.
Under Mugabe’s rule, life expectancy in Zimbabwe dived from 61 in 1985 to just 44 in 2002, before recovering to 60 today, due largely to international aid, according to AFP.
READ MORE: Robert Mugabe dies aged 95
The major causes of the country’s health crisis have been the collapse of healthcare, falling standards of living as the economy has crumbled, and the struggle to tackle HIV-AIDS, experts say.
At the large public hospital near the capital Harare, doctors have reported that syringes, surgical gloves and basic painkillers are all in short supply day-to-day.
In January this year, Mnangagwa announced a 150% fuel price increase, triggering countrywide protests which left at least 17 people dead and scores injured when soldiers opened fire on unarmed demonstrators.
In hospitals, patients were neglected while medical staff went on strike. Doctors demanded, among other things, to be paid in US dollars, GroundUp reported at the time.
(Background reporting, AFP and GroundUp)