Mugabe’s body arrives in Zimbabwe, burial place still a mystery

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Dozens of state officials converged at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to receive his body.

His body arrived at Harare's Robert Gabriel Mugabe worldwide airport shortly after 1330 GMT. As she left the tarmac in a vehicle behind the hearse, Ms. Mugabe could be seen wiping away tears and being consoled by one of her sisters.

Mnangagwa, who was Mugabe's closest ally and vice-president before ousting him with the military, addressed the crowd of more than 1,000 at the airport, praising Mugabe as "our revolutionary commander ... an icon of pan-Africanism" and "the man who created our nation".

However, family spokesman Leo Mugabe, a nephew of the former president, said over the weekend that burial arrangements have not yet been finalized.

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.

Zimbabweans look Wednesday along the route in Harare taken by the procession carrying Mugabe's casket. The Mugabe family is also demanding that Mugabe allies scattered across the world after the coup be allowed to come and bury the late former leader without risking arrest.

The group, who included Vice President Kembo Mohadi, attended a private Catholic mass for Mugabe at the funeral parlor where his body is, officiated by a Zimbabwean priest. "I also don't know", he said. Grace Mugabe had bitterly denounced Mnangagwa before her husband's downfall, yet there was no show of antagonism during the short ceremony.

The government wanted Mugabe to be buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, while his family insisted that he wanted to be laid in his home village of Zvimba. Flowers arranged in the shape of the word "Gushungo", Mr. Mugabe's clan name, decorated the steps of the building.

The body will be taken to his rural home, with Zimbabwe's information minister said Mugabe's body will lie in state at two stadiums in the capital for three days.

Mugabe left behind an economy wrecked by hyperinflation, deeply entrenched corruption, and a raging political rivalry between ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC.

"I will always remember the enormous, huge contribution he made not only to the people of Zimbabwe but to the people of Africa", he said. "Notwithstanding our legendary differences with Mr Mugabe, we have no reason to exhibit barbarity by hosting a national festivity during his funeral", said the statement.

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