Security tight as Mugabe gets a private burial in Zvimba – PICTURES

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Mugabe gets private burial

Security was tight as the family of longtime leader Robert Mugabe prepared on Saturday a private burial at his rural home. A highly private farewell was planned for one of Africa’s most divisive figures after a weeks-long family dispute with the administration that forced him from power.

A van from a funeral parlor enters former President Robert Mugabe's rural home in Zvimba, about 100 kilometers north west of the capital Harare, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. According to a family spokesperson Mugabe is expected to be buried at the residence after weeks of drama mystery and contention over his burial place. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
A van from a funeral parlor enters former President Robert Mugabe’s rural home in Zvimba, about 100 kilometers north west of the capital Harare, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. According to a family spokesperson Mugabe is expected to be buried at the residence after weeks of drama mystery and contention over his burial place. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Only approved guests and funeral parlor vans were allowed, a decision out of sync with the local tradition that funerals are free for all to attend. One elderly neighbor threw a tantrum after being blocked at the gate.

Mugabe’s family earlier had agreed to a government request to bury him at a shrine in the capital but only after a hilltop mausoleum was built to set him apart from former comrades.

But the government on Thursday abruptly announced the family had changed its mind, leaving it with scaffolding around the partially completed memorial.

Neighbours negotiate for entrance at the former President Robert Mugabe's rural home in Zvimba, about 100 kilometers north west of the capital Harare, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. According to a family spokesperson Mugabe is expected to be buried at the residence after weeks of drama mystery and contention over his burial place. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Neighbours negotiate for entrance at the former President Robert Mugabe’s rural home in Zvimba, about 100 kilometers north west of the capital Harare, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. According to a family spokesperson Mugabe is expected to be buried at the residence after weeks of drama mystery and contention over his burial place. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A spokesman for the ruling ZANU-PF party, Simon Khaya Moyo, called the private burial “most unfortunate.”

In a statement, Moyo added that “we indeed respect the wishes of families of deceased heroes, hence we are saddened when maneuvers that border on political gimmicks begin to unfold on an issue concerning an illustrious liberation icon.”

The Zimbabwean flag flies at half mast at Kutama College, a school where former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe studied in his rural home in Zvimba about 100 kilometres north west of the capital Harare, Friday, Sept, 27, 2019. Zimbabwe's former presient Robert Mugabe is expected to be buried on Saturday, a family spokesperson said Friday, after three weeks of drama over the former strongman's final resting place.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
The Zimbabwean flag flies at half mast at Kutama College, a school where former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe studied in his rural home in Zvimba about 100 kilometres north west of the capital Harare, Friday, Sept, 27, 2019. Zimbabwe’s former presient Robert Mugabe is expected to be buried on Saturday, a family spokesperson said Friday, after three weeks of drama over the former strongman’s final resting place.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
A portrait of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is seen a bar in Zvimba about 100 kilometres north west of the capital Harare, Friday, Sept, 27, 2019. Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe is expected to be buried on Saturday, a family spokesperson said Friday, after three weeks of drama over the former strongman's final resting place.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
A portrait of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is seen in a bar in Zvimba about 100 kilometres north west of the capital Harare, Friday, Sept, 27, 2019. Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe is expected to be buried on Saturday, a family spokesperson said Friday, after three weeks of drama over the former strongman’s final resting place.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Mugabe, who led the bitter guerrilla war to end white-minority rule in the country then known as Rhodesia, was Zimbabwe’s first leader and ruled from 1980 for 37 years, from years of prosperity to economic ruin and repression.

He was forced by the military and ruling party to retire in late 2017 as thousands cheered in the streets. Mugabe died this month in Singapore at age 95.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a once-trusted deputy who helped oust Mugabe from power, was not expected to attend the burial. State-run media reported that the government would be represented by the home affairs minister. Nehanda radio

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