FORMER President Robert Mugabe who died early last month and was laid to rest at his Kutama rural home two weeks ago amid controversy could be re-buried.
Insiders told Zimbolivenews.com that construction of the mausoleum in which Mugabe was to be buried could resume after it emerged there is a chance for his remains to be relocated to the National Heroes Acre.
“We have been told to be on stand-by because construction may resume soon. There is speculation that the former President could be reburied,” said a source.
It is a fresh twist to what has turned into an extension of the controversy that always seemed to follow Mugabe during the liberation struggle and after it when he took over as the country’s first black leader.
He ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 37 years before he was deposed by the army nearly two years ago.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa who took over after Mugabe’s removal by the army in November 207, declared his predecessor a national hero and wanted him buried at the National Heroes Acre.
However close family members including former First Lady Grace claimed the late former President had told them he did not want anything to do with the national shrine and instead wanted to be laid to rest at his rural home.
After painstaking negotiations Grace agreed to have Mugabe buried at the national shrine. Mnangagwa then announced a special enclosure would be constructed as part of homage to the country’s founding father.
As work began with a Chinese company Shanghai Construction Group having been contracted to construct the mausoleum, Grace made a shock 11th hour volte-face and announced Mugabe would be buried at Kutama in accordance with his dying wish.
The move left Mnangagwa humiliated and government announced it was halting the construction of the mausoleum.
Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi said “government could not continue to use public funds for something that would not be used.”
The Chinese firm had been contracted for US$1 million according to reports with Mugabe’s friend and Equatorial Guinea leader Theodoro Obiang Nguema who was part of over a dozen African leader who trooped to Harare to pay this respects for the former Zanu PF leader at a State function mid-September having reportedly promised to foot part of the bill.
But Information Ministry secretary Nick Mangwana denied there ever was a company contracted to build the mausoleum.
“There was never a contract or a Chinese company that was doing the work. The mausoleum was being built by the Department of Public Works (in the Ministry of Local Government),” said Mangwana before hanging up.
Godfrey Mahachi director National Museums and Monuments under whose purview the mausoleum and the Heroes Acre falls was not available for comment.
Zimbabwe’s longtime leader Robert Mugabe is expected to be buried on Saturday, a family spokesman said Friday, after three weeks of drama over the former strongman’s final resting place.
Security was tight around the rural home that now will be the burial site after an abrupt change of plans left Zimbabwe’s government with an incomplete mausoleum on a hilltop in the capital, Harare.
Family spokesman Leo Mugabe confirmed the new plan, a day after the government announced it would comply with the family’s latest wishes. Tensions have been evident between the family and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a once-trusted deputy who helped oust Mugabe from power in late 2017 as thousands cheered in the streets.
The family has preferred the rural site but agreed on a burial at the National Heroes Acre in Harare — only after the construction of a mausoleum that would set Mugabe apart from the rest. The shrine is reserved mainly for independence war and ruling party elites, and the government has wanted Mugabe to be buried there among former comrades.
Now steel rods and scaffolding remain at the site as the drama over the resting place of one of Africa’s longest serving leaders continues.
Mugabe died this month in Singapore at age 95. He led Zimbabwe for 37 years before being forced by the military and ruling party to retire.
Mugabe, who led the bitter guerrilla war to end white-minority rule in the country then known as Rhodesia, was Zimbabwe’s first leader and ruled the country from 1980 for 37 years, from years of prosperity to economic ruin and repression.