Veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga has said former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was unrelenting and outspoken against colonialism and apartheid.

And President Edgar Lungu said Mugabe will be remembered as a true Pan-Africanist with a steadfast contribution to the liberation struggle of not only Zimbabwe but also the Southern African region and the wider African continent.

In a statement, Friday, Dr Mwaanga stated that Mugabe was a determined defender of his country and Africa.

“Former President Mugabe, was an African patriot who contributed greatly to the liberation of his country and to Africa. He was a fearless freedom fighter who endured many years of imprisonment under the notorious minority regime of Ian Douglas Smith. He was unrelenting and outspoken against colonialism and apartheid. After his release from Gweru prison, which was negotiated by the Frontline states of Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana and Nigeria, he continued fighting for his people, until 1979 when Tanzania and Zambia struck a deal with then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher during the Commonwealth Conference in Lusaka, where it was agreed that a constitutional conference be held at Lancaster House in London, involving all the parties. This finally took place and paved the way for Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980,” stated Dr Mwaanga.

“At Commonwealth Conferences and at the United Nations, Mugabe was an indefatigable defender of his country and Africa. Under his leadership, Zimbabwe achieved the distinction of recording the highest literacy rate on the African Continent. On the deficit side, Zimbabwe’s democratic and human rights credentials came under serious scrutiny and the country has had to endure many years of harsh international sanctions which led to severe economic decline in his once prosperous country. I pay tribute to this icon of Africa, whom I got to know well and with whom in interacted with both during the struggle for independence and much after. I will remember him in my own and mourn with the people of Zimbabwe at this time of sorrow.”

And President Edgar Lungu said the hallmark of Mugabe’s leadership was his embrace and strong passion for education as the definitive and emphatic means to unlocking the freedoms of his people.

“Once Zimbabwe has achieved independence, this determined, committed and fearless revolutionary embarked on liberating the people for ideological colonization by empowering Zimbabweans with knowledge. While the Zambian people mourn the passing of one of the founding fathers of Africa, we join your Excellency, the bereaved family and the people of Zimbabwe in reflection and prayer,” said President Lungu in a message to Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

According to a statement issued by President Lungu’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe, the Head of State further recalled Mugabe being fondly referred to a Sekuru and urged that he be remembered as the true pan-Africanist with a steadfast contribution to the liberation struggle of not only Zimbabwe but also the continent.

“Your Excellency and dear brother, it is indeed with a deep sense of great sorrow that the world woke up to the passing of a great son of the soil, comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe .On behalf of the government, the people of Zambia, and on my own behalf, allow me to extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences to you, the bereaved family and the people of Zimbabwe. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” said President Lungu in his message to President Mnangagwa.