Mnangagwa meets Mugabe family representatives over the burial site

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HARARE – President Mnangagwa on Tuesday met with chiefs from Zvimba, elders and members of the Mugabe family, led by Chief Zvimba, regarding burial arrangements of former President Robert Mugabe.

Speaking after the meeting which took place at President Mnangagwa’s Munhumutapa offices, in Harare this Tuesday, Deputy Chief Secretary – Presidential Communications, Mr George Charamba said the delegation pledged full support to government arrangements and programmes which are being drawn up and executed in close consultation with the family of Zimbabwe’s founding father.

“The delegation appreciated government support from time of hospitalization and treatment of former President and founding father, Cde Mugabe, right up to the time of his passing on. They were thankful especially for government’s arrangements and support in repatriating the remains of the former President which are expected in tomorrow afternoon. The Delegation pledged full support to government arrangements and programmes which are being drawn up and executed in close consultation with the family of the late departed,” he said.

The government on Monday dispatched a delegation led by Vice President Kembo Mohadi and also comprising family members to help with the repatriation of former President Mugabe’s body.

The body is expected in the country this Wednesday, with burial set for Sunday 15 September.

Former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe’s body will lie in state at two different stadiums in the capital city for three days, the information minister said Monday, but she did not announce where he would be buried on Sunday.

Mugabe, an ex-guerrilla chief who took power in 1980 when the African country shook off white minority rule and ruled for decades, died on Friday at a hospital in Singapore. He was 95.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said in a statement that the government has dispatched Vice President Kembo Mohadi and other senior officials and family members to Singapore to accompany Mugabe’s body home.

The body will arrive in the country “any time on Wednesday,” she said. The body will lie in state at Harare’s Rufaro Stadium and then at the National Sports Stadium, also in the capital, she said.

Mutsvangwa said Mugabe would be buried on Sunday but she did not say where he will be buried, saying more updates will be provided “as more information on the program trickles in.”

Presidential spokesman George Charamba and deputy information minister Energy Mutodi at the weekend said the former authoritarian ruler would be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre, a monumental burial site reserved for people viewed by the ruling ZANU-PF party as having served the country with distinction during and after the 1970s war of independence. Mugabe’s first wife, Sally, is buried at Heroes’ Acre and a vacant plot reserved for the former president is next to her grave.

However, family spokesman Leo Mugabe, a nephew of the former president, said over the weekend that burial arrangements have not yet been finalized. This has prompted speculation of a rift between the government and members of Mugabe’s family, who want him to be buried at his rural home in Kutama, about 85 kilometers (52 miles) southwest of Harare.

Leo Mugabe told reporters that Mugabe had died “a very bitter man” because he felt betrayed by the former political and military leaders who were his allies for close to four decades before they forced him to resign in November, 2017.

He dismissed reports that Mugabe had refused to be buried at the Heroes’ Acre, but also refused to say where the burial will take place.

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