Archibold Gurure, 35, from Humberstone Road, Leicester, attacked 44-year-old Julie Mubvumba with a radiator then mutilated her body, Leicestershire Police said.
Gurure has been jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years at Leicester Crown Court after pleading guilty to murder.
Police said the court heard an argument broke out in the early hours of March 25, 2010, at Ms Mubvumba’s flat in Gotham Street, Leicester, where the pair had been drinking heavily together.
Gurure assaulted her with a portable radiator, causing fatal head injuries, then mutilated her body, a spokeswoman said.
On the morning of March 26 he contacted family to tell them he had killed his former partner. Police found Ms Mubvumba’s mutilated body, the spokeswoman said.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Castle, senior investigating officer said: "This was a particularly harrowing case for the officers who dealt with the initial scene.
"The weight of evidence gathered by the investigation team and provided by key witnesses was significant in Gurure entering a guilty plea.
"The fact that he pleaded guilty to murder has prevented the families of both the suspect and the victim from having to endure the ordeal of a trial.
"This was a tragic case which has impacted on the victim’s family both here in the UK and back in her own country of Zimbabwe. I hope that now the case is over it will offer some closure to Julie’s family and they will be able to start to rebuild their lives."