Robert Mugabe's home village to pay tribute to former leader

Cheryl Sanders
September 17, 2019

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday, September 14, joined his counterparts in Harare, Zimbabwe, to pay last respect to the country's late former head of state Robert Mugabe.

The former president has been lying in state in Harare since Thursday after the government announced three days of national mourning.

Others, however, believe it has nothing to do with tensions between the Mugabe family, more so his widow Grace, who was at some point being groomed to take over from the 95-year-old until a coup, which saw Mnangagwa rise to presidency.

In 2017 he was placed under house arrest and, four days later, replaced as the leader of his party Zanu-PF by his former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Even in death, controversy still follows the late Robert Mugabe. He said Mugabe's body would be preserved until then.

Mugabe's final burial arrangements were mired in a dispute between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the family over where and when the former leader should be buried.

Walter Chidhakwa, who spoke on behalf of Mugabe's family, said Mugabe was an icon who was determined and unflinching in pursuing policies like land reform and later the black economic empowerment program.

But Leo Mugabe said the deceased leader will not be buried next to his first wife.

"People who love Mugabe are saying that is a great idea, that it is a great way to honour him", she said, referring to the burial at National Heroes Acre.

She also became increasingly prominent politically, becoming the head of the Women's League of her husband's ruling ZANU-PF party.

Some of Mugabe's relatives have expressed bitterness at the way former close associates, including Mnangagwa, overthrew him after 37 years in power amid mass protests against his rule.

'We shall continue to hear his rich, brave, defiant and inspiring voice, ' he said.

"We say give our country a rebirth and a new start".

African leaders and senior officials from Cuba, Russia and China all praised Mugabe as a pan-African hero for his past as a colonial-era guerrilla leader.

This narrative is in direct contrast to reports that Mugabe had been seeking treatment 8 000km away from home in Singapore's gleaming Gleneagles clinic - where the cheapest suite costs about $850 (R12 400) a day - for the past five months.

Other presidents in attendance were South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa and his Equatorial Guinea counterpart Theodore Obiang Nguema, besides the host president Emerson Mnangagwa.

Following Mugabe's passing, Mnangagwa called on the country to set aside their differences and come together to remember the past and look to the future as a united, proud, independent and free nation. However, since his unceremonious ousting from power in a coup in 2017, most of his former allies had turned against him and were uttering obscenities against him on a regular basis, something that scarred him immensely.

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