President Cyril Ramaphosa booed at Mugabe’s funeral in Harare over xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals living in South Africa as world leaders pay tribute to the founding father of Zimbabwe.
World leaders gathered in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, on Saturday for the funeral of the country’s former president, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Among the statesmen and women who attended the event were Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Teodoro Obiang Nguema (Equatorial Guinea), Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Peter Mutharika (Malawi), Sahle-Work Zewde (Ethiopia), Hage Geingob (Namibia), President Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique), João Lourenço (Angola) and Edgar Lungu (Zambia). Nigeria was represented by its vice president, Yemi Osinbajo.
In his opening address, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnagagwa thanked Mugabe for his contributions to the liberation of Africa from colonial rule and called on Western nations to honour the former president by removing the harsh sanctions imposed on his country. “Our arms are stretched out for genuine friendship,” he said. He reiterated that the country’s land reform program, a legacy of Mugabe and for which harsh economic sanctions were imposed on the country by the West, would never be reversed and that the challenge now was how to make Zimbabwe’s agriculture to be productive.
Tributes were also paid to Mugabe by African leaders. The unpleasant incident of the event, attended by thousands of Zimbabweans, occurred when President Cyril Ramaphosa was called to deliver his speech. The South African leader was jeered and whistled at, making him to make a detour from his prepared speech to apologise for the xenophobic attacks against foreign African nationals living in the country. He said his government was working hard to encourage social cohesion, and to ensure South Africans learnt to embrace foreigners.
Representatives of Russia and China, among others, also spoke at the event. The Russian envoy described former President Mugabe as an icon of Africa’s liberation while his Chinese counterpart said his people had been deprived of an old and good friend. He said China cherished its relationship with Zimbabwe and stood committed to assist the country.
The state funeral, attended by thousands of Zimbabweans in Harare’s National Stadium, was also graced by former African leaders, such as Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, John Rawlings (Ghana), Joaquim Chissano (Mozambique), Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Joseph Kabila (DRC), Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba (Namibia), Rupiya Banda (Zambia), Festus Mogae (Botswana) and Thabo Mbeki (South Africa).