SWITZERLAND, SEPTEMBER 10 – Zimbabwe’s government has announced a date for Robert Mugabe’s funeral.
A funeral for the longtime leader will be held on Saturday, September 14th and a burial ceremony will be held the following day.
This announcement comes amid a row over where the former president will be buried.
A government memo declared the funeral will be at Harare National Sports stadium on Saturday, September 14th but gave no location for the burial to follow the next day.
Members of the late Mr. Mugabe’s family are battling with the ruling Zanu PF party over its plan to bury the former leader in a cemetery for heroes of the liberation war in the capital.
Mugabe has a grave ready next to his first wife Sally in Heroes Acre, a North-Korea designed graveyard also home to prestigious Zanu PF supporters.
However, some of Mr Mugabe’s family want him interred in their rural village in Zvimba district, about 50 miles northwest of Harare.
“We want him buried here. Heroes, for what?” Mr Mugabe’s cousin, Josephine Jorincha, told AFP in the village of Kutama.
Mr Mugabe’s nephew, Leo, who is the family’s head of burial preparations, told the Telegraph that he was negotiating with village chiefs over the final site for Mugabe’s burial.
He said that Mr Mugabe’s toppling in a 2017 coup by his former right-hand man Emerson Mnangagwa had rendered the former dictator ambivalent about being buried in the Zanu PF shrine. However, Leo said that he believed Mr Mugabe would eventually be buried in Heroes’ Acre.
He said: “I am sure he will be buried at Heroes’ Acre. We are with the chiefs, we have to consult.”
Mr Mugabe, who died aged 95 last week, led Zimbabwe for nearly four decades until he was ousted by a coup in 2017.
“Imagine people you trusted – people that were guarding you, looking after you – [turning] against you,” Leo Mugabe said.
“He was very bitter and it dented his legacy,” he told the BBC from his uncle’s rural home.
“It was not an easy thing for him to take,” he added.
Initially praised for broadening access to health and education for the black majority, Mr Mugabe later used violence against his political opponents and presided over Zimbabwe’s economic ruin.
He was removed from office after he fired his deputy, with many fearing he was preparing for his wife, Grace Mugabe, to succeed him.
His former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, then became president after the army intervened and forced Mr Mugabe to step down.
The long-serving president’s legacy has been the subject of fierce debate since he died.