President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared the 95-year-old a national hero and promised days of national mourning.
It is still unclear when Mugabe’s body will be flown back from Singapore and where he will be buried, while the cause of death has not been revealed.
Mugabe was hailed for his role in the struggle against white minority rule, leading Zim from independence in 1980 until he was toppled by his own army in November 2017.
His reputation was tarnished in later years as his country’s economy crashed.
“He was bitter. You can imagine, the people that you trusted, the people who were guarding you, the people that were looking after your security are the same people that turn against you,” a relative told reporters outside Mugabe’s homestead in Kutama village.
Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate remains around 80%, while the nation struggles with shortages of basic goods like food and fuel.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said Mugabe was a giant that stood shoulder to shoulder with the ANC and other liberation movements, while the EFF said Mugabe stood his ground against Britain and the US on the land question.
But DA leader Mmusi Maimane said his mistakes had led to the collapse of Zimbabwe.
ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe said Mugabe, widely recognised as the most educated president in the world, gave his people the best education in Africa.
“Zimbabwe has produced some of the best Mathematics and Science teachers in Africa.
“Zimbabweans say he taught them the value of hard work and to be self-sufficient in order not to be dependent on government for their daily sustenance.
“This is why Zimbabweans are regarded as some of the best workers in SA,” he said.