Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe will be buried early next week in his village and not at a national monument for liberation heroes, his family said on Thursday.
The family of Mugabe, who died in Singapore last week, and Zimbabwe’s government have been at odds over whether he would be buried in his homestead in Kutama, northwest of Harare, or at the National Heroes Acre in the capital.
“His body will lie in state at Kutama on Sunday night.., followed by a private burial – either Monday or Tuesday – no National Heroes Acre. That’s the decision of the whole family,” his nephew Leo Mugabe told AFP.
Mugabe, whose autocratic rule ended in a military coup in 2017, died last week aged 95. His body was flown back from Singapore on Wednesday.
The body of Zimbabwe’s ex-president, Robert Mugabe, arrives home to a guard of honour and a country divided over the legacy of a former liberation hero whose 37-year rule was marked by repression and economic ruin.
Zimbabweans have been split over the death of a leader once hailed for ending the former British colony Rhodesia of white-minority rule but who later purged his foes in a brutal crackdown.
His tyrannical leadership and economic mismanagement forced millions to escape a country crippled by hyper-inflation and shortages of food, drugs and fuel.
After his body arrived home, though, Mugabe’s final burial place became a point of dispute between his family and government.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa had declared Mugabe a national hero after his death, indicating he should be buried at the national monument.
But the family said traditional chiefs in his homestead in the Zvimba region should decide where he should be buried.
Some family members are still bitter over his ouster, and the role his former ally Mnangagwa played. Mugabe fired Mnangagwa in 2017, in what many believed was an attempt to position his wife Grace to succeed him.
Mugabe was ousted by protesters and the military soon after.
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.