Mugabe to be buried in home village, not ‘Heroes’ shrine
London, Sep 13, 2019 (AltAfrica)-ZIMBABWEAN ex-president Robert Mugabe will be buried next week in his village, his family said on Thursday, delivering an apparent snub to government plans to bury him at a national monument.
Mugabe died in Singapore last week aged 95, leaving Zimbabweans divided over the legacy of a leader once lauded as a liberation hero but whose autocratic 37-year rule ended in a coup in 2017.
Tensions between his family and president Emmerson Mnangagwa have erupted over whether he would be buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare or at a private ceremony in the family homestead of Kutama in Zvimba, north-west of the capital.
“His body will lie in state at Kutama on Sunday night […] followed by a private burial – either Monday or Tuesday – no National Heroes Acre. That’s the decision of the whole family,” his nephew Leo Mugabe told AFP.
And it is thought the government has backed down and accepted the decision of the family as final. But the funeral rites drawn up by the government continues till Saturday
Some family members are still bitter over Mugabe’s ouster and the role his former ally Mnangagwa played.
Mugabe fired Mnangagwa as first vice president in 2017 – a move many perceived as an attempt to position his wife Grace to succeed him after nearly four decades of iron-fisted rule.
Soon after, Mugabe was toppled by protesters and the army in what was seen as part of a power struggle within the ruling Zanu-PF party between pro-Mnangagwa factions and Mugabe loyalists siding with Grace Mugabe.
The former leader had been travelling to Singapore regularly for medical treatment, but his health deteriorated rapidly after his ouster, which allies say left him a “broken soul”.
Mnangagwa had declared Mugabe a national hero after his death, indicating he should be buried at the monument for his role as a founding father. But the family said traditional chiefs in his homestead in the Zvimba area should decide.
Mugabe’s body arrived from Singapore on Wednesday at Harare airport, where Mnangagwa and Grace stood together as the former leader’s remains were given an honour guard. His body was later taken to his Blue Roof residence for mourning.
His family said the body would be taken to Harare’s Rufaro stadium on Friday for a public ceremony.
Chinese president Xi Jinping, Cuba’s former leader Raul Castro and a dozen African presidents, including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, are among those expected to attend Mugabe’s state funeral in Harare on Saturday.
“We had many differences, but beyond the differences that we had politically to serve our people, we have to reflect on his contribution,” said MDC opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa, visiting Grace at the residence.