Robert Mugabe to be buried next week in his village: Family


Mugabe's family and Zimbabwe's government have been at odds over whether he should be buried in his homestead in Kutama, northwest of Harare, or at the National Heroes Acre in the capital.

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, Zimbabwe's presidency said.

Leo Mugabe, the late president's nephew, said the burial ceremony would be private.

A family statement demanded that Grace, who was once a rival to Mnangagwa for the presidency, should be front and centre during the funeral.

Members of the public will be able to pay their respects for the next two days at Rufaro Stadium, where nearly 40 years ago Mr Mugabe raised Zimbabwe's flag of independence ending years of white-minority rule.

"His body will lie in state at Kutama on Sunday night... followed by a private burial - either Monday or Tuesday - no National Heroes' Acre [the national monument for liberation heroes]".

"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".

This, he claimed, is only due to the fact that the procession will be rooted in the former Zimbabwean leader's cultural traditions.

Zhuwao said Mugabe gave specific instructions to his wife and children on how and where he would be buried.

Grace Mugabe is expected to stay beside the casket the entire time.

After leaving RGM International airport, Mugabe's body passed through One Commando barracks on its way to his private residence the Blue Roof in Borrowdale where the full funeral programme until his burial will be announced.

It had always been expected that Mugabe would be buried at Heroes' Acre, a monumental burial location atop a prominent hill featuring a grandiose towering sculpture of guerrilla fighters that Mugabe built with help from North Korea. They share Mugabe's bitterness at the way former allies including Mnangagwa conspired to topple him and want him buried in his home village.

Mnangagwa himself is under pressure after promising to attract investment and create jobs in a post-Mugabe era, with little success.