reports that Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe will be buried early next week in his village and not at a national monument for liberation heroes, his family said on Thursday.
The family of Mugabe, who died in Singapore last week, and Zimbabwe’s government have been at odds over whether he would be buried in his homestead in Kutama, northwest of Harare, or at the National Heroes Acre in 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.
Mugabe, whose autocratic rule ended in a military coup in 2017, died last week aged 95. His body was flown back from Singapore on Wednesday.
Zimbabweans have been split over the death of a leader once hailed for ending the former British colony Rhodesia of white-minority rule but who later purged his foes in a brutal crackdown.
His tyrannical leadership and economic mismanagement forced millions to escape a country crippled by hyper-inflation and shortages of food, drugs and fuel.
After his body arrived home, though, Mugabe’s final burial place became a point of dispute between his family and government.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa had declared Mugabe a national hero after his death, indicating he should be buried at the national monument.
But the family said traditional chiefs in his homestead in the Zvimba region should decide where he should be buried.
Some family members are still bitter over his ouster, and the role his former ally Mnangagwa played. Mugabe fired Mnangagwa in 2017, in what many believed was an attempt to position his wife Grace to succeed him.
Mugabe was ousted by protesters and the military soon after.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, former Cuban leader Raul Castro and a dozen African presidents, including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, are among those expected to attend Mugabe’s state funeral on Saturday in Harare.
The family of the late former president Robert Mugabe has released a strongly worded statement in which they take aim at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. In the statement, the family claims that the government is trying to force them to accept a programme which is against the wishes of the late former President.
We publish the statement below in its entirety,
Statement by the immediate family of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe on the absence of consultation on the programme for the funeral and burial of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe issued on 12th September 2019
We note with extreme concern the manner with which the Government of Zimbabwe has developed the Programme for the Funeral of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe without consulting his immediate family who were tasked with communicating his last wishes in regard to his funeral and burial.
As his immediate family, we have also observed with shock that the Government of Zimbabwe is attempting to coerce us to accept a programme for the funeral and burial of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe which is contrary to his wishes on how he wished to have his mortal remains interred.
As the immediate family of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe, we are ready and willing to work with the Government of Zimbabwe to develop a programme for the funeral and burial of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe which is in conformance to his wishes on how his mortal remains will be interred.
One of the wishes that the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe indicated was that his wife, Dr Grace Mugabe, MUST NEVER leave the casket bearing his remains for the duration of the funeral proceedings whilst in Zimbabwe up until his mortal remains have been interred.
To that end, we confirm that Honourable Walter Chidakwa may communicate our position with relevant authorities to ensure that we develop a programme that conforms to the wishes of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe. We have also tasked Honourable Patrick Zhuwao to disseminate this statement.