It was a leadership marred by violence, persecution and corruption – and the former president’s outspoken tendencies caused controversy, too.
Following his death, we have curated some of the most revealing quotes Mr Mugabe made during his lifetime.
:: He responded boldly to premature rumours of his death (2012)
“I have died many times. That’s where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once. I have died and resurrected and I don’t know how many times I will die and resurrect.”
:: And was enthusiastic about Hitler (2013)
“I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold.”
:: But he seemed less keen on Nelson Mandela (2013)
“Mandela has gone a bit too far in doing good to the non-black communities, really in some cases at the expense of (blacks)… That’s being too saintly, too good.”
:: And much less on LGBT people (2010)
“Worse than pigs and dogs… Those who do it, we will say, they are wayward. It is just madness, insanity.”
:: On his affair with Grace, who he married in 1996 following the death of his wife, he was unapologetic (1998)
“I wanted children and this is how I thought I could get them. I knew what I was doing and my wife knew.”
:: Decades ago, on Zimbabwean independence, Mugabe had been conciliatory (1980)
“It could never be a correct justification that because the whites oppressed us yesterday when they had power, the blacks must oppress them today.”
:: Later on seizing farms, he adopted a different tone (2000)
“You are now our enemies because you really have behaved as enemies of Zimbabwe. We are full of anger. Our entire community is angry and that is why we now have the war veterans seizing land.”
:: On Britain, Zimbabwe’s former colonial ruler (2001)
“The British were brought up as a violent people, liars, scoundrels and crooks… I am told that [former British prime minister Tony] Blair was a troublesome little boy at school.”
:: And colonialism in general (2015)
“African resources belong to Africa. Others may come to assist as our friends and allies, but no longer as colonisers or oppressors, no longer as racists.”
:: Mugabe’s final statement as president, made in a resignation letter, prompted jubilation (2017)
“My decision to resign is voluntary on my part,” the letter said.
“It arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire to ensure a smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power that underpins national security, peace and stability.”
Can we do a Robert Mugabe quote thread in honor of his passing on? Drop your favourite Mugabe quotes