The family of Zimbabwe founder Robert Mugabe is reportedly pushing back against the government’s plan to bury him at the National Heroes Acre in Harare. Three relatives who spoke to Reuters want him to be buried in his home village instead.
The former President died in Singapore after battling a long illness and at the time of publication Zimbabweans are still in the dark as to where they shall go to pay their respects.
The Zimbabwean government sent a memo to embassies on Sunday and advised on its plan 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 held.
The choice of Mugabe’s final resting place has been a hot 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.
If Mugabe is buried in Kutama village, 85 km (52 miles) from Harare, it would be a major rebuke of his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the ruling ZANU-PF party that Mugabe helped to found.
A Mugabe relative who is helping with funeral arrangements told Reuters that the family had compromised by agreeing to have a state funeral led by the government on Saturday but is insisting that Mugabe would be buried at Kutama, his place of birth. The relative, speaking from Singapore, asked not to be named.
Two other relatives in Zimbabwe also said the family had agreed that Mugabe, affectionately known as “Mudhara” (Old man in the Shona language) by his supporters, would be buried at Kutama.
“The family has made a decision that Mudhara will be buried at Kutama – that is the position – but the government is still engaging the family to try to have him buried at (National) Heroes Acre,” the relative in Singapore told Reuters.
“What is clear is that there is no agreement on the place of burial. Even the government statement does not address that issue. It is not settled.”