President Robert Mugabe finally broke his 24 hour silence and issued a statement on the death of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela.
The bizarre silence as other world leaders and celebrities spoke out had triggered criticism in the media and social networks given Mugabe’s criticism of Mandela in the past.
In his message addressed to South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma Mugabe said:
“On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Zanu-PF and indeed on my own behalf, I would like to extend deep condolences to you and, through you to the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa, on the death of the great icon of African liberation, freedom fighter and the first President of a free, independent and democratic South Africa, Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela on 5th December 2013.
“Mr Nelson Mandela’s renowned and illustrious political life will forever remain a beacon of excellence. Not only was he a great champion of the emancipation of the oppressed, but he also was a humble and compassionate leader who showed selfless dedication to the service of his people.
“We join the rest of the nation in mourning his departure. The late Nelson Mandela will forever remain in our minds as an unflinching fighter for justice.”
Mugabe though appears to have had a frosty relationship with Mandela. Only this year Mugabe slammed Mandela’s reconciliation policies, and labelled him “too much of a saint” in a television interview.
“Mandela has gone a bit too far in doing good to the non-black communities, really in some cases at the expense of [blacks]…,” Mugabe reportedly told talk show host Dali Tambo in an interview.
“That is being too saintly, too good, too much of a saint,” he said.
In July last year Mugabe brought his quiet feud with Mandela into the open, jealously claiming his coalition partner Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had nothing to celebrate from being likened to the anti-apartheid icon.
There is also video footage in which Mandela in a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that an increasingly unpopular President Robert Mugabe did not want him (Mandela) released from prison.