Zimbabwe’s longtime ruler Robert Mugabe will be buried in his home district of Zvimba, not at a national shrine in Harare as previously planned, the government said on Thursday, after three weeks of public disputes over his final resting place.
Mugabe’s rule included a disastrous economic decline and political violence that forced up to one in five citizens into exile, but some Zimbabweans still saw the former president as a liberation hero when he died on Sept 6 aged 95.
Mugabe, who was bitter over the way he was ousted in an army coup in November 2017, had told family members that he wanted to be buried in Zvimba.
But President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former right-hand man who turned against him, had pushed for his predecessor to be buried at the National Heroes Acre monument to display a public reconciliation with Mugabe’s family and admirers.
Mnangagwa, currently in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly, is under mounting pressure as the economy struggles and the opposition says it is being denied the right to protest.
“The family of the late former President R.G. Mugabe has expressed its desire to proceed with his burial in Zvimba. In line with government policy to respect the wishes of families of deceased heroes, government is cooperating with the Mugabe family in their new position,” the information ministry said in a statement.
Nick Mangwana, permanent secretary at the ministry, told Reuters his understanding was that the burial would take place on Saturday during a private ceremony.
There is confusion over the burial with multiple reports suggesting different theories. The Spotlight Zimbabwe website claims Mugabe has already been buried at a secret location. Another theory had said he will be buried in Zvimba at the weekend and not the Heroes Acre in Harare.