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Robert Mugabe: Bishop says the West has demonised a hero

The former leader of Zimbabwe, who had been receiving treatment in Singapore for poor health, has died at the age of 95.

The controversial figure, who many saw as a tyrant, was ousted in a military coup in 2017 after 37 years in power.

Bishop Joe Aldred, a Pentecostal minister from Churches Together in England told Premier he thought it was important to remember other aspects of Mugabe's reign.

"I refuse to see him just through the lens he's portrayed through in the West, particularly here in Britain, and I refuse to portray him just through the things that he will have done wrong.

"Can we please recognise with some balance who this man was? Why he is something of a hero for me is not because of the bad things he has done, but because of the good things he has done, his Afro centricity his pan Africanism and his sense of wanting his people liberated from the terrible regime of apartheid."

In 1964, Mugabe was imprisoned for more than a decade for criticising the then white minority Rhodesian government.

16 years later he led Zimbabwe to independence and was instated as Prime Minister, and later President, of the African nation.

Bishop Aldred went on to say that Christians in particular need to be careful not to judge, saying: "I am in no way making excuses for the wrong that Robert Mugabe has done. I'm also saying he has done an enormous amount of good.

"We have to ask ourselves in what place are we to judge and we must judge them not just in terms of one side of the balance sheet."

During his reign from 1980-2017 Mugabe, who has been described by many as a dictator, was accused of killing tens of thousands of his own citizens and bringing the economy to its knees through hyperinflation, fixed pricing and widespread starvation.

In 2000, he seized land from white owners and in 2008 used violent militias to silence his political opponents during an election.

He famously declared that only God could remove him from office.

His 2017 resignation lead to mass rejoicing on the streets at the end of his reign.

Mugabe's death has led to mixed reactions from the Christian community - human rights campaigner Salani Mutseyami left Zimbabwe for the UK in 2003 and says the injustices committed by Mugabe cannot be overlooked:

"The funny thing about people who say he was a hero, these are the people who've never been affected by Robert Mugabe's rule. There is no way someone who has seen all the atrocities that have been committed - we've heard testimonies from people who've suffered from this violent outbreak - can still go into on to say that he was a hero.

"It's one thing to liberate the nation, but it's another one to imprison it at the same time. He may have started his race well, but he definitely did not end it on a good note."

Mutseyami went on to express her regret that Mugabe's death means he did not have to face his victims: "He hasn't answered to his crimes against humanity. He hasn't once apologised."

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