Mugabe will not be given a state burial on Sunday at the national Heroes’ Acre site thus denying the public the opportunity to pay the former leader their last respect.
A family spokesman Leo Mugabe announced Thursday that the burial will be a private, family affair.
“There have just been discussions between President Mnangagwa and Mai (Mrs.) Mugabe and it would look like nothing has changed,” said the ex-president’s nephew.
“The family … said they are going to have a private burial. We don’t want the public to come. They don’t want you to know where he is going to be buried. We are not witnessing burial on Sunday, no date has been set for the burial.”
The announcement came after President Emmerson Mnangagwa met with Mugabe’s widow, Grace, and other family members to fine tune the state burial arrangements.
Instead of an interment on Sunday, Mugabe’s body will be on view to the public at a place near Mugabe’s birthplace in Zvimba district, said Leo Mugabe, who added that the family is yet to decide his burial site.
Speaking at the Mugabe house, President Mnangagwa said his government would respect the family’s wishes over the burial, saying they have “the full support of the government. Nothing will change.”
The ongoing uncertainty of the burial of Mugabe further highlights the lasting acrimony between Mnangagwa and Mugabe’s wife and other family members.
Mugabe was deposed in November 2017 by Zimbabwe’s military and his former ally Mnangagwa. Grace and other family members still resent his ouster, apparently resulting in their refusal to go along with state burial plans.
Shortly after Mugabe’s death, Leo Mugabe said the former strongman died “a very bitter man” because he felt betrayed by Mnangagwa and the army generals who were his allies for close to four decades before they put him under house arrest and forced him to resign.
It has long been taken for granted that Mugabe would be buried at Heroes’ Acre monument, a burial place reserved for top officials of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party who contributed to ending white colonial rule.
Mugabe had overseen the construction by North Korea of the monument atop a prominent hill and featuring a grandiose towering sculpture of guerrilla fighters. Mugabe gave many speeches at the site and his first wife, Sally, is buried there next to a gravesite long reserved for the ex-leader.
Mugabe died last week in Singapore at the age of 95.