Mugabe family cry foul at Zim government’s ‘interference’ in plans

ZIMBABWE - APRIL 20: Robert Mugabe at a religious service in Paris, Zimbabwe on April 20, 1980. (Photo by Jean-Claude FRANCOLON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The body arrived home on Wednesday to a guard of honour in a country divided over Mugabe’s legacy.

The dispute between the family of Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwean government continues as the family now accuse the Zimbabwean government of coercing them to accept a programme for the funeral and burial without the family’s input.

Mugabe’s final resting place is still in dispute, with his family and President Emmerson Mnangagwa apparently split over where the former leader’s body will be buried on Sunday.

In a statement, the family said: “We note with extreme concern the manner with which the government of Zimbabwe has developed the programme for the funeral of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe without consulting his immediate family, who were tasked with communicating his last wishes in regard to his funeral and burial.

“As his immediate family, we have also observed with shock that the government of Zimbabwe is attempting to coerce us to accept a programme for the funeral and burial of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe, which is contrary to his wishes on how he wished to have his mortal remains interred.

“As the immediate family of the late Mugabe, we are ready and willing to work with the government to Zimbabwe to develop a programme for the funeral and burial of the late Mugabe which is in conformance to his wishes on how his mortal remains will be interred.

“One of the wishes that Mugabe indicated was that his wife, Dr Grace Mugabe, must never leave the casket bearing his remains for the duration of the funeral proceedings while in Zimbabwe up until his mortal remains have been interred.

“To that end, we confirm that honourable Walter Chidakwa may communicate our position with relevant authorities to ensure that we develop a programme that conforms to the wishes of the lat Mugabe. We have also tasked honourable Patrick Zhuwao to disseminate this statement.”

Mugabe died on a medical trip to Singapore, where he had been travelling regularly for treatment. A delegation including a vice president headed flew to Singapore to bring him home.

The body was later taken to Mugabe’s Harare villa, known as the Blue Roof for its blue pagoda-style structure, where family and supporters gathered to mourn.

His body will be laid out for the public in Rufaro Stadium on Thursday, before heading to his homestead Zvimba for a wake.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, former Cuban leader Raul Castro, and a dozen African presidents, including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, are among those expected to attend Mugabe’s state funeral on Saturday in Harare, said Zimbabwe’s presidency.

Mugabe’s final burial place was still far from clear.

His relatives and Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government are apparently at odds over whether it would be at his family home in Zvimba, northwest of Harare, or at a shrine for liberation heroes in the capital.

The official funeral will take place on Saturday, at the giant 60,000-seat National Sports Stadium in Harare.

The body arrived home on Wednesday to a guard of honour in a country divided over Mugabe’s legacy.

(Compiled by Gopolang Moloko, background reporting by AFP)

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