Mnangagwa: Mugabe to be buried in new mausoleum in October, as thousands of Zimbabweans thronged Rufaro Soccer Stadium for funeral parade
Burial for Zimbabwe’s former president, Robert Mugabe, will be held at the National Heroes Acre sometime in October, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday.
It was previously agreed that there would be a symbolic burial on Sunday in the hilltop shrine in Harare, reserved for the country’s ruling elite, but family spokesman, Leo Mugabe, told reporters this plan had now been cancelled.
The body will now go to Mugabe’s hometown of Zvimba on Sunday for traditional funeral rituals to be carried out before the burial.
Mugabe will be buried in October after a mausoleum at the National Heroes Acre has been completed, Mnangagwa said.
The confirmation comes after disagreements between the family and the government about where the former leader should be buried.
The family initially said they would prefer to honour Mugabe’s wishes and have him buried next to his mother in his rural home in Kutama, about 85 kilometres from Harare.
They then agreed to the symbolic funeral on Sunday in the hope that the real burial would take place at a later date, giving them time to carry out the traditional rituals.
An official memorial ceremony is planned for Saturday at the 60,000-seater National Sports Stadium with a number of African leaders and former leaders expected to attend.
Mugabe’s body was returned to Zimbabwe on Wednesday from Singapore, where he died at the age of 95.
He had been seeking treatment there for an undisclosed illness since April.
He was deposed in a 2017 coup after nearly four decades in power.
Still revered by some for his fight against white domination as a former liberation fighter, he is widely despised by others who see him as responsible for destroying Zimbabwe’s economy and violently oppressing any opposition.
Meanwhile, thousands of Zimbabweans thronged Rufaro Soccer Stadium in Harare, on Friday, for the continuation of the body viewing of Mugabe.
Friday’s funeral parade followed another one held at the same venue on Thursday to afford ordinary Zimbabweans a chance to bid farewell to the late leader.
On Saturday, another funeral service will be held in the giant national Sports Stadium to give foreign dignitaries and members of the diplomatic community a chance to pay their last respects.
At least 11 African heads of state and government have confirmed attendance and some are expected to start arriving in the country on Friday.
Family spokesperson and Mugabe’s nephew, Leo Mugabe, on Friday, said that the late founding leader of the nation will be buried at the National Heroes Acre at a date to be announced.
He told newsmen that his uncle’s body would be taken to the National Heroes Acre on Sunday when all the necessary procedures to honour a national hero, such as the military 21-gun salute and conferment of national hero status by the government, will be done.
“The body will then be taken away for burial later while the works that are supposed to be done at Heroes Acre are done and finalised,” he said.
He said the works would take long to be completed, “perhaps as much as a week”.
“Thereafter, he will then be buried at a private ceremony by the family in a private burial service,” he said.
There had been issues between the Mugabe family and the government over the burial arrangements, with some family members saying that he should be buried at his rural home as per his wishes.
The government was also pushing for him to be interred at the national shrine as a sign of honour.
Mourners from five provinces from the southern parts of the country bid the former president farewell, after those from the country’s five other provinces did the same on Thursday.
According to the programme, the international dignitaries will bid farewell to Mugabe at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Saturday.