Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro
Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) shakes hands with Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe on 12 September, 2005, at the State Council in Havana, CubaAdalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has paid tribute to Fidel Castro, Cuba's former leader who died last Friday (25 November). Castro, who stepped down in 2006, ruled the Caribbean island for 47 years, making him the world's third longest-serving head of state.

Veteran pro-independence leader Mugabe, who has been in power in the southern African state since 1980, landed in Havana, Cuba on 29 November ahead of Castro's 4 December funeral.

Paying tribute to the former revolutionary, Mugabe described Castro as the leader, not only of the Cuban revolution, but also of all African people, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported.

"Fidel [Castro] was not just your leader. He was our leader and the leader of all revolutionaries. We followed him, listened to him and tried to emulate him," Mugabe said, as he addressed the media on his arrival at the Jose Marti International Airport.

Describing Castro's death as a great loss to Cuba, Mugabe said the leader of the Cuban revolution was being mourned in all communities in Africa where, he claimed, his liberation ideology perpetuates.

Mugabe, who is expected to run again in Zimbabwe's 2018 presidential election, praised Castro's resilience when faced with the US' commercial, economic, and financial embargo against Cuba from 1962. Mugabe himself is facing both US and European Union restrictive measures against Zimbabwe, which were extended until 20 February 2017 in February this year.

The African leader also referred to Cuba's funding and provision of human resources for and during the liberation wars in several African and southern African countries, including Angola. South Africa's late president Mandela publicly recognised the South African government's debilitation in the 1970s and 1980s as the result of Cuba's military intervention in Angola; a move which had huge impact on the Angola Civil War – often seen as a proxy battlefield for the Cold War.