Published: Thu, September 12, 2019

Mugabe family at odds with Zimbabwe government over late leader’s funeral, burial

Mugabe family at odds with Zimbabwe government over late leader’s funeral, burial

The body of Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe will soon be taken to lie in state at a stadium in the capital, Harare.

The family of Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe has opposed plans by the government to bury him at the National Heroes' Acre affirming that he will be laid to rest at his Kutama village instead.

Mugabe died in Singapore last week aged 95, leaving Zimbabweans divided over the legacy of a leader once lauded as a colonial-era liberation hero, but whose autocratic 37-year rule ended in a coup in 2017.

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

"We are gathered here to received his body, we are grieved and we say our honest and deep condolences to the former first lady who has brought the body amai Grace Mugabe with us here and the children who are also here and the immediate family who are here".

The body will then be transported to Zvimba - Mr Mugabe's rural home - to allow members of his family to make their farewells before Saturday's funeral service.

The body of the former guerrilla leader is to be on view at several historic sites in the next few days but where and when he will be buried has not been announced, indicating friction between the Mugabe family and Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa, who praised Mugabe as a national hero, sought to downplay any dispute on Thursday, saying he was still in talks with the deceased leader's wife.

Followed by a private burial - either Monday or Tuesday - no National Heroes' Acre.

Around two thousand supporters, family members and government officials were on the tarmac at Harare airport to welcome Mugabe's remains as they arrived by charter flight from Singapore.

At the airport Wednesday night, Mnangagwa paid tribute to his former ally, calling him an "icon of pan-Africanism" and "the man who created our nation", Sky News reported.

The 35,000-seat Rufaro stadium, where the public will be allowed to see the body, is where Mugabe took his oath of office when colonial Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith handed over the reins of the country.

His leadership and economic mismanagement forced millions to escape a country crippled by hyper-inflation and shortages of food, drugs and fuel.

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