Mugabe to be buried at Zimbabwe national shrine on Sunday, nephew saysReuters | Harare | Updated: 13-09-2019 19:00 IST | Created: 13-09-2019 18:55 IST
Robert Mugabe will be buried at a Zimbabwean national shrine in Harare on Sunday, his nephew said on Friday, contradicting comments a day earlier which had suggested the family was resisting the government's burial plans. Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years until he was ousted by his own army in November 2017, died in a Singapore hospital a week ago aged 95.
A fight over his burial place has threatened to undermine his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe's former deputy who conspired to topple him, and expose deep rifts in the governing ZANU-PF party. "I can confirm that he will be buried at the National Heroes Acre on Sunday," said Leo Mugabe, a nephew of the former president who has acted as a spokesman for the family, adding that an official ceremony would be followed by a private traditional family event at the monument.
Mugabe's body arrived in Zimbabwe from Singapore on Wednesday and started three days of lying in state on Thursday. Some relatives, expressing bitterness at the way former comrades including Mnangagwa had ousted Mugabe, had pushed for him to be buried in his home village rather than at the shrine to heroes of the liberation war against white minority rule.
Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo told Reuters that the confusion over Mugabe's burial place had arisen because the government could reach an agreement with close family members only once they returned to Zimbabwe with the body. He said it was fitting for Mugabe to be interred at National Heroes Acre because it "symbolises the greatest honour one can be bestowed with and it can only be a place where men and women who have contributed to the liberation of this country...can be buried."
Burying Mugabe at the national monument could give Mnangagwa a chance to show that his ZANU-PF party is united behind his political and economic agenda. During his near four-decades rule, Mugabe used his powers to bestow or deny former comrades the privilege to be buried at National Heroes Acre.
Mugabe's body was displayed for a second day on Friday at Rufaro soccer stadium in Harare's Mbare township, where thousands of mourners filed past the open coffin. Foreign dignitaries were due to start arriving in Harare on Friday ahead of a state funeral planned for the country's National Sports Stadium on Saturday. Heads of state expected to attend the funeral include South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta.