"Emmerson Mnangagwa and his minions have made Robert Mugabe look like an angel, look like a hero", opposition figure Tendai Biti said from Harare in an interview after news of Mugabe's death broke. What is certain is that Mugabe responded with bad counterforce, and his soldiers killed thousands of people, almost all of them innocent civilians, mostly in the southwest.
In November, Mr Mnangagwa said Mugabe was no longer able to walk when he had been admitted to a hospital in Singapore, without saying what treatment Mugabe had been undergoing.
Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta hailed Mugabe as an "elder statesman, a freedom fighter and a Pan-Africanist who played a major role in shaping the interests of the African continent". His death was announced by his successor and erstwhile deputy, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, via Twitter.
Others were less charitable. He is unable to go to Zimbabwe where Mnangagwa's government wants to put him in jail over alleged corruption while he was local government minister. The formerly white-ruled Rhodesia and its new leader quickly became the pride of southern Africa.
But he is recognised as the man who led the liberation movement that fought a lengthy battle to end of white supremacist rule, paving the way for the country's transition to democracy.
Early on, he urged Zimbabweans to reconcile after the civil war that raged during the final colonial years.
In leading the "Pride of Africa", Mugabe's administration was revered internationally for its reconciliation attempts with white Rhodesian settlers, including a concerted effort to expand and reform of the state's healthcare and educational systems.
Some 20,000 people are believed to have been killed during the insurrection by loyalists of Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union and then in a general assault on mainly Matabeles. For many Zimbabweans, cash, jobs and fairly priced commercial goods remain impossible to get - and for that, many blame Mugabe.
As the years went by, Mugabe was widely accused of hanging onto power through violence and vote fraud, notably in a 2008 election that led to a troubled coalition government after regional mediators intervened.
Xi said the Chinese side cherishes its brotherly traditional friendship with Zimbabwe, and is willing to work with the Zimbabwean government and people to continue broadening and deepening cooperation of the two sides in all areas, and push for the constant development of China-Zimbabwe comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation.
"The timing is more like Wednesday when the body will arrive in Zimbabwe", he said.
Robert Mugabe himself was never brought to justice. Mr Mugabe assumed the reputation of a "strongman" leader - all-powerful, ruling by threats and violence but with a strong base of support.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born in 1924 in Zvimba, southwest of the capital (which was then called Salisbury, and is now Harare).
"It's hard to redeem". Obviously some would argue that as a pan-Africanist, he did advocate for Africa to be recognized as an equal partner to the International Monetary Fund, in the United Nations, and so forth.
As he aged into his 90s, Mugabe grew frail and his wife, unpopular with the public, positioned herself to eventually take power.
The Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri also extended heartfelt condolences to Cde Mugabe's wife, Grace, the Mugabe family and the nation at large.
The military prevented that by taking control of state institutions and forcing Mugabe to resign in November 2017.
Many remembered Mugabe as a tyrant who oversaw the decline of one of Africa's most prosperous nations.
"They are the ones who say they gave Christianity to Africa", Mugabe said of the West during a visit to South Africa in 2016.