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Mourners gather at Rufaro stadium where Robert Mugabe's body will lie in state. Courtesy photo

Robert Mugabe’s Family Rejects Government Funeral Plans

The family says his body will be displayed in his home village of Kutama on Sunday night, and will be buried at a private ceremony. "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]. That's the decision of the whole family," his nephew Leo Mugabe told the AFP news agency.
posted onSeptember 12, 2019
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By BBC

Robert Mugabe's family says they are shocked at not having been consulted by the government about arrangements for the funeral of the former Zimbabwean president.

Mr Mugabe, who was 95, died last week while undergoing medical treatment in a Singapore hospital. His body is being prepared to lie in state at a football stadium in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. His family and the government disagree over Mr Mugabe's final resting place.

The family says his body will be displayed in his home village of Kutama on Sunday night, and will be buried at a private ceremony. "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]. That's the decision of the whole family," his nephew Leo Mugabe told the AFP news agency.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa had declared Mr Mugabe a national hero after his death, indicating he should be buried at the national monument. The family has prevailed and Zimbabwe's former president, Robert Mugabe, will be buried in his rural home. This is a final snub to his former comrades. It is not unprecedented: other national heroes have declined to be buried at the Heroes' Acres national shrine in Harare, but not one of Robert Mugabe's stature.

Speaking at her mother's funeral last year, Grace Mugabe expressed her desire to reconcile with President Emerson Mnangagwa, the man who ultimately prevailed in the pair's battle to succeed Mr Mugabe as president, with the help of the army. But this decision could strain relations and widen the rift. In Harare's Rufaro stadium, where preparations are under way for the arrival of his body, hundreds of mourners in the regalia of the governing Zanu-PF party have arrived. There is a jubilant mood.

But most of the people I spoke to are Mugabe supporters. One woman supported the family's decision for a private burial. "The way they got rid of him was not right, it was cruel," she said. Another mourner said she believed the former president needed to be buried with his family rather than with his comrades. Education Minister Paul Mavhima says there is no doubt Mr Mugabe should be buried as a national hero.

"Such an icon, one whose funeral service is going to be attended by almost 50 current and former heads of state. Such a founding father of this country, there should never be a discussion about that. There should never be any conflict whatsoever. The decision should be clear, he should go to the national shrine," he told the BBC.

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