Source: Elders mourn hero | The Sunday News September 8, 2019
THE late former President, Cde Robert Mugabe, carved his mark in championing education for all in Zimbabwe and should also be remembered as a freedom fighter who contributed immensely to promote freedom within Sadc, deputy chair of a group of prominent figures and former statespersons known as The Elders, Mrs Graca Machel, has said.
Speaking to journalists after delivering the group’s condolence message to President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House yesterday, Mrs Machel said the late nationalist’s legacy of providing education for all should be treasured.
“(Former) President Mugabe will be remembered as a freedom fighter. He contributed immensely for the freedom of this country; he contributed immensely for the freedom of other people here in the region. But I must say also that the first years of development of Zimbabwe, we say Zimbabwe was a beacon in this region, particularly in education. Many of you benefited from the policies he championed to make sure that education is available to everyone in this country.
“But of course the young generation only remember the last years where there has been hardships. We appeal that that it is important to have a cool and balanced outlook on his contribution and honouring him, like the President took the initiative to declare him national hero and to give all the honours of a statesman.
Elders chair and former Irish president Mrs Mary Robinson, who led the delegation, said the group was saddened by the death of former President Mugabe.
“We came here as Elders to pay our respect to the President following the death of (former) President Mugabe.
“I remember when I came here as President of Ireland on a State visit in 1994, I was very well received by President Mugabe. Indeed, he even invited me to go in the car with him to his old school, which was not on the agenda, but we did that. I was back here in 2012 in discussions about the Constitution to help to have more gender dimensions, again he hosted a big meeting and I met him at that time. But even more so Mama Graca Machel has strong memories of how supportive President Mugabe was during the early days. So we wanted to present our credentials and our condolences. And we also had a very good discussion with the President.”
Commenting on the 2008 incident where delegation of the Elders was refused entry into the country by President Mugabe’s government, Mrs Machel said the incident does not put a stain on Cde Mugabe’s record as a statesman.