Published: Fri, September 13, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Robert Mugabe to be buried next week in his village: Family

Robert Mugabe to be buried next week in his village: Family

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's former president, Robert Mugabe, will be buried at a private ceremony at a date still to be decided, his family said on Thursday, in an embarrassment for his successor who wants him interred at a national shrine on Sunday.

His body is now lying in state at a local stadium in Harare, where members of the public are paying their last respects.

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.

On Wednesday, Zimbabweans lined the streets of the capital to catch a glimpse of the hearse as it travelled from the airport to the late president's mansion. There was a discord between Mugabe's family and the government on where he should be buried.

The family of Mugabe and Zimbabwe's government have been at odds over whether he would be buried at his homestead in Kutama, northwest of Harare, or at the National Heroes Acre in the capital.

"As long as Zanu-PF is in power and as long as I am leading, no one will deviate, you remain our icon, our commander and founding father", Mnangagwa said of Mugabe, addressing Mugabe's relatives and associates inside the room where the coffin draped in the Zimbabwean flag was being kept.

It had always been expected that Mugabe would be buried at Heroes' Acre, a monumental burial location atop a prominent hill featuring a grandiose towering sculpture of guerrilla fighters that Mugabe built with help from North Korea.

"There have just been discussions between President Mnangagwa and Mai (Mrs.) Mugabe and it would look like nothing has changed", said the ex-president's nephew.

Shortly after Mugabe's death, Leo Mugabe said the former strongman died "a very bitter man" because he felt betrayed by Mnangagwa and the army generals who were his allies for close to four decades before they put him under house arrest and forced him to resign.

"The government should let him be buried at his rural home if that it is what he wanted", said taxi driver Desire Benhure, 28.

However, it seems some family members want to follow Zimbabwean tradition and bury Mugabe at his home village of Kutama.

It had always been expected that Mugabe would be buried at Heroes' Acre, a monumental burial location atop a prominent hill featuring a grandiose towering sculpture of guerrilla fighters that Mugabe built with help from North Korea.

At the Mugabe residence in Harare she sat by her husband's coffin and was consoled by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa on Thursday.

On Friday the casket is to go back to Rufaro stadium and on Saturday a ceremony will be held at the National Sports Stadium, which African heads of state and other prominent officials are expected to attend.

For more we cross to SABC NEWS reporter Chriselda Lewis.

In Harare's Rufaro stadium, where preparations are under way for the arrival of his body, hundreds of mourners in the regalia of the governing Zanu-PF party have arrived.

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