Zimbabwe’s founding president Roberty Mugabe will be buried on on Sunday, September 15, having passed on last week in Singapore, at the age of 95.
Having ruled the Southern African nation for 37 years, until he was ousted by the army in November 2017, Mugabe’s legacy continues to divide opinions at home and abroad.
The government and his family also reportedly involved in discussions over the location of his final resting place. While the government wants to bury him in the National Heroes’ Acre, the family is reportedly opposed to the idea, arguing that Mugabe had since fallen out with the current regime.
MDC suspends celebrations
The MDC said in a statement on Wednesday that it had postponed its 20th anniversary rally because of Mugabe’s funeral.
It said: “Notwithstanding our legendary differences with Mr. Mugabe, we have no reason to exhibit barbarity by hosting a national festivity during his funeral.”
Mugabe left behind an economy wrecked by hyperinflation and deeply entrenched corruption, and a raging political rivalry between ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC.
September 11: Mugabe’s body arrives in Zimbabwe
Former president Robert Mugabe’s body arrived at the country’s main airport on Wednesday, but his final resting place remained a source of mystery amid a dispute between some family members and the government.
The former president’s body arrived at Harare’s Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport shortly after 1330 GMT, a Reuters witness said.
Crowds had gathered at the airport well before the scheduled arrival time, with some people wearing T-shirts bearing Mugabe’s face and others with Mnangagwa’s image, while music blared from loudspeakers.
A convoy of 4×4 vehicles with number plates bearing the letters “RG Mugabe” and the former leader’s signature were also on the runway.
Mugabe’s wife Grace and Zimbabwean Vice President Kembo Mohadi were among those accompanying the body of the former leader on the plane, Leo Mugabe, a nephew and family spokesman, said. Mnangagwa, top officials and other Mugabe family members were at the airport to receive the body.
On Thursday, ordinary Zimbabweans and supporters are expected to pay their last respects to Mugabe at a Harare soccer stadium, where the body will lie in state before being taken to his rural home in Kutama, 85 km (52 miles) from the capital, the family spokesman said.
September 9: Bringing Mugabe’s body home
A family spokesperson confirmed on Monday that a plane left Zimbabwe for Singapore carrying government officials and relatives to bring home the body of Robert Mugabe.
Leo Mugabe, the late president’s nephew and family spokesman, said a charter plane left Harare for Singapore just after 9 a.m. (0700
GMT) on Monday.
Mugabe’s body was expected to arrive in Zimbabwe on Wednesday at 3 p.m. (1300 GMT), Leo Mugabe told Reuters.
September 8: Burial program announced
Zimbabwe’s presidency announced on Sunday that the country’s former president, Robert Mugabe is scheduled to be buried on Sunday, September 15, in a location yet to be determined.
“His remains are expected on Wednesday afternoon (in Zimbabwe). The official funeral is scheduled for Saturday, his funeral will take place on Sunday (next),” President George Charamba told AFP, adding that the place of his funeral would be determined by his family.
Since his death, discussions between his family and the government about how to organize his funeral have been taking place.
Mugabe’s family is pushing back against the government’s plan to bury him at the National Heroes Acre monument in Harare and wants him to be interred in his home village, relatives have told Reuters.
When pressed on where Mugabe would be buried, Leo Mugabe was non-committal.
“Mugabe was a chief and he will be buried in accordance with tradition. The chiefs have not told us where he will be buried, so it is not clear yet. I also don’t know,” he said.
In some parts of Zimbabwe, burials of chiefs are a secret affair and people are only told the resting place afterwards.
Mugabe’s resting place has been a topic of discussion since the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reported last month that Mugabe would snub the offer of a burial at National Heroes Acre – a site reserved for the country’s heroes – because he felt bitter about the way he was removed from power.
The Zimbabwean government said in a memo sent to embassies that it planned to hold a state funeral for Mugabe in the National Sports Stadium on Saturday, with a burial ceremony on Sunday, but it did not say where the burial would be.
If Mugabe is buried in Kutama village, 85 km (50 miles) from Harare, it would be a major rebuke for his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the ruling ZANU-PF party that Mugabe helped to found.
September 6: National hero
Zimbabwe declared Robert Mugabe a national hero on Friday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said, and the country would be in national mourning until the former leader was buried.
Tributes and reactions
Revered by many as a liberator who freed his people from white minority rule, Mugabe was vilified by others for wrecking one of Africa’s most promising economies and ruthlessly crushing his opponents.
Most residents in downtown Harare said on Saturday that they were saddened by Mugabe’s death since he was their liberator and had broadened access to education.
“Even now we have livestock we keep in the rural areas because of him, so it’s painful to lose our father, our grandfather who helped us to learn and go to school,” said Tongai Huni, a fruit vendor.
Others expressed anger that Mugabe had left the economy in a sorry state, with hyperinflation and mass unemployment.
“We are just trying to deal with … the harm that he did,” said Margaret Shumba, another Harare resident.
I learnt this morning about the passing of an African liberation icon & great Pan-Africanist, His Excellency Robert Mugabe. I join @edmnangagwa, the people of Zimbabwe and the entire African continent in mourning the demise of this great son of Africa. May his soul rest in peace.
— Yoweri K Museveni (@KagutaMuseveni) September 6, 2019
I'm saddened by the passing of our martyr & giant of the African Revolution cde President Robert Mugabe. Let's continue the fight & protect his legacy. We must not allow our enemies to tell us how to remember him; we know our heroes.
May his soul rest in revolutionary peace. pic.twitter.com/wpvQm3Waf0
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) September 6, 2019
September 6: Death announcement
Mugabe died on Friday aged 95 in Singapore, where he had long received medical treatment. He had dominated Zimbabwean politics for almost four decades from independence in 1980 until he was removed by his own army in a November 2017 coup.