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Zimbabwe mourns white opposition party founder Bennett, ‘sharpest thorn’ in Mugabe’s side

Associated Press

He was called the “sharpest thorn” in Robert Mugabe’s side. Zimbabwe is mourning Roy Bennett, a white founding member of the main opposition party who died Thursday in a helicopter crash in the United States.

With his fluent Shona, earthy manner and passion for political change, Bennett won a devoted following among black Zimbabweans. He was known as “Pachedu,” meaning “one of us” in Shona.

His death comes as Zimbabwe sees dramatic change. Mugabe shocked the world by resigning in November after 37 years in power, under pressure from the military and ruling party.

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Now President Emmerson Mnangagwa seeks to leave mentor Mugabe’s shadow, open the once-prosperous nation to the world and secure his legacy in what he vows will be free and fair elections in a few months’ time.

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