Having ruled the Southern African nation for 37 years, until he was ousted by the army in November 2017, Mugabe’s legacy continues to divide opinions at home and abroad.
The government and his family also reportedly involved in discussions over the location of his final resting place. While the government wants to bury him in the National Heroes’ Acre, the family is reportedly opposed to the idea, arguing that Mugabe had since fallen out with the current regime.
Low-key farewell in Mugabe’s village
The remains of former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, who died on September 6, arrived in his home village on Monday for a subdued farewell at a dusty sports field after a weekend state funeral with African leaders in the capital.
Mugabe was given a state funeral on Saturday, but the return of his body’s return to his place of birth northwest of the capital was a low-key event.
The brown coffin with silver trimmings was placed under a small white tent surrounded by marquees sheltering about 1,000 people. Another 1,000 had gathered in the midday sun at a business area about 10 kilometres (six miles) from Mugabe’s homestead.
Led by Mugabe’s two sons, Robert Jr and Bellarmine, hundreds of villagers filed past the casket surrounded by wreaths of white flowers.
“He has left a void, a big void. It’s a gap that no one can fill,” Mhedziso Chibatamoto, 44, wearing a red and grey tailored shirt with a portrait of Mugabe.
Mugabe’s grand funeral
Mugabe to be buried at Heroes’ Acre
The family of former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe have agreed to bury him at a monument for national heroes in Harare, the family said on Friday, though the date for the ceremony remained unclear.
“Yes I can confirm,” his nephew Leo Mugabe told reporters when asked whether the family had agreed to a burial at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
He said the traditional chiefs in Mugabe’s homestead had made the decision.
“They have now pronounced their position, so if they have pronounced that the burial will be at the Heroes Acre, that means that we now have to wait for the details… whether it will be a private burial or a public one.”
A government spokesman did not immediately respond.
Matare Mudzinge, a traditional leader from Mugabe’s village in Zvimba area, confirmed the decision.
Tensions erupted when Mnangagwa’s government proposed a burial at the National Heroes Acre while the family said he would be buried at a private ceremony, possibly in his homestead of Kutama, northwest of the capital.
Family speaks out on Mugabe burial
Robert Mugabe’s family said on Thursday that Zimbabwe’s ex-president will be buried early next week in his village and not at a national monument for liberation heroes.
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.
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.
The family issued a statement saying it was concerned about the manner in which the government was preparing the programme for Mugabe’s funeral “without consulting his immediate family”.
The family “also observed with shock that the Government of Zimbabwe is attempting to coerce us to accept a programme for funeral and burial” which was contrary to Mugabe’s wishes, the statement said.
“We are ready and willing to work with the government to develop a programme for the funeral and burial of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe which is in conformance to his wishes on how his mortal remains will be interred,” the family said.
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.