Mugabe’s family clashes with Mnangagwa over plans for state funeral
nehandaradio: Officials and family members are arguing over the arrangements for the burial of Robert Mugabe, the former Zimbabwean president who died in Singapore last week aged 95.
High-ranking members of the ruling Zanu-PF party are understood to have told Mugabe’s close family that his remains should be interred at a hilltop monument outside Harare, the capital, following a ceremony at the nearby national stadium, where dozens of prominent African leaders would be present.
However friends and allies of Mugabe’s second wife, Grace, have said that the late dictator made it clear he would prefer to be buried at his home town of Zvimba, about 60 miles from Harare, with only close relatives in attendance.
They said that Mugabe, who was ousted in a military takeover in November 2017, did not want his death exploited for political gain by his successors.
Mugabe’s remains have yet to be repatriated from Singapore, where he died in a private clinic. Many of his close family members are there, including his widow, along with a team of senior officials.
Last Friday evening, Emmerson Mnangagwa, president of Zimbabwe, declared Mugabe a “national hero” and ordered days of mourning before the burial. He did not give any details of funeral arrangements, but his choice of words suggested he wanted to see Mugabe buried in the National Heroes Acre, a monument to the heroes of the war that overturned the white supremacist regime in the former British colony.
Designed by Zimbabwean and North Korean architects, the plot has a commanding view of Harare and features a huge bronze statue of three guerrilla fighters and an eternal flame on a 40-metre tower.
Though much of Mugabe’s 37 years in power was marked by violence, economic mismanagement and corruption, the former guerrilla fighter is still revered as a liberation leader. Many in Zimbabwe see him as a national hero, remembering his role in the war against white rule.
Flags flew at half-mast yesterday, but there were no public activities to mark the death of a man whose legacy includes a shattered economy, pariah status on the international stage and a repressive political system dominated by the ruling party.
The state-run Herald newspaper, which vilified Mugabe when he was forced to resign and when he subsequently voiced support for the opposition, carried glowing tributes.
In a “commemorative edition” the newspaper, which often acts as a mouthpiece of the government, praised Mugabe for “his uncompromising stance when it came to the rights of Africans”.