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.
Mugabe died in Singapore last week aged 95, leaving Zimbabweans deeply divided over the legacy of a leader once lauded as an anti-colonial guerrilla hero, but whose 37-year iron-fisted rule ended in a coup in 2017.
His family and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe ally who turned against him, had been at odds over where he would be buried after his body returned home on Wednesday from Singapore.
“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.
The former leader had been travelling to Singapore regularly for medical treatment but allies say his health deteriorated rapidly after his ouster.
Some of Mugabe’s relatives are still bitter over how he was removed from power, and the role Mnangagwa played in his ouster.
Mugabe dismissed Mnangagwa as first vice president in 2017 — a move many perceived as a bid to position his wife Grace to succeed him after nearly four decades of autocratic rule.
Soon after, Mugabe was toppled by protesters and the army in what was seen as part of a power struggle within the ruling ZANU-PF party between pro-Mnangagwa factions and Mugabe loyalists siding with Grace.
He remained free in Zimbabwe with his family after he was forced from office.
– People divided –
Zimbabweans have been split over the death of a man who some still praise for ending white-minority rule and widening access to health and education to the poor black majority.
But many Zimbabweans remember his tyrannical leadership and economic mismanagement that forced millions to escape a country ravaged by hyper-inflation and shortages of food, drugs and fuel.
“We are happier now that he is gone. Why should I go to his funeral? I don’t have fuel,” said Constance, 52, a Harare housewife. “We don’t want to hear anything about him anymore. He is the cause of our problems.”
Mugabe’s legacy is also marked by a crackdown known as Gukurahundi, which killed an estimated 20,000 alleged “dissidents”, and his violent seizure of white-owned farms that made him an international pariah.
Around 1,000 people gathered in Harare’s Rufaro Stadium for the second day of public viewing of Mugabe’s casket.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, Cuban former 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.
Mnangagwa himself is under pressure after promising a new post-Mugabe era of more investment and jobs after he came to power, with little success.
His government’s fuel price hike this year sparked protests which led to a crackdown on opposition and clashes in which soldiers opened fire killing 17 people.