Controversy over where and when Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe will be buried has overshadowed arrangements for Zimbabweans to pay their respects to the deceased leader.
Mugabe will not be given a state burial on Sunday at the national Heroes’ Acre site, family spokesman Leo Mugabe announced yesterday. The burial will be a private, family affair, he said to press outside Mugabe’s Blue Roof house.
“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. “The family … said they are going to have a private burial. We don’t want the public to come. They don’t want you to know where he is going to be buried. We are not witnessing burial on Sunday, no date has been set for the burial.”
The announcement came after President Emmerson Mnangagwa met with Mugabe’s widow, Grace, and other family members to try to resolve the burial dispute. Instead of an interment on Sunday, Mugabe’s body will be on view to the public at a place near Mugabe’s birthplace in Zvimba district, said Leo Mugabe, who added that the family had not decided if he would be buried in Zvimba.
Speaking at the Mugabe house, Mnangagwa said his government would respect the family’s wishes over the burial, saying they have “the full support of the government. Nothing will change.” The ongoing uncertainty of the burial of Mugabe, who died last week in Singapore at the age of 95, has eclipsed the elaborate plans for Zimbabweans to pay their respects to the former guerrilla leader at several historic sites.
The burial dispute has also highlighted the lasting acrimony between Mnangagwa and Mugabe’s wife and other family members.