Robert Mugabe family backs down over burial after ‘threat to Grace’

Robert Mugabe is to be buried at the cemetery he built - although this goes against his wishes.

Grace and the coffin
Widow Grace Mugabe was reportedly told her palatial home was under threat

You can see it from the suburbs of Harare, stamped onto a sizable chunk of hillside.

It is a burial ground fit for a king – or a long-time dictator like Robert Mugabe – and it was the former Zimbabwean president who paid the North Koreans to construct it back in 1981.

It is called Heroes’ Acre, Zimbabwe’s cemetery for its most extraordinary citizens, and it will not come as any surprise when I tell you that a special plot was reserved for the man who commissioned it.

Dr Peter Magombeyi poses as he answers to an AFP interview, in Chitungwiza, 26km south-east of Harare, on September 8, 2019. - For Zimbabwe's doctors, few institutions reflect their country's decay under Robert Mugabe than the once-vaunted public hospitals, now deteriorated, under-equipt and failing.
In Zimbabwe, medics say, latex gloves serve as urine bags, operating rooms lack of light bulbs and patients are often forced to refuel their own ambulances.
Mugabe, who died last week in Singapore at age 95, may have swept to power as a liberation hero, but his rule was marked by economic collapse that left his people scrambling to survive. Local doctors noted the symbolism of Mugabe seeking treatment 8,000 km from home in Singapore's modern Gleneagles clinic where a private suite can cost more than $1,000 a day. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

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Mugabe's burial site chosen after 'dispute between government and family'

Mugabe’s burial site chosen after ‘dispute between government and family’

The state burial site has been chosen

The problem is, Mr Mugabe changed his mind about Heroes’ Acre when the current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, deposed him in 2017.

He was bitter and angry and he did not want Mr Mnangagwa to benefit from his death so he told his family to bury him in the village of his birth.

Yet Dr Phedzisai Ruhanya, an academic and analyst, told us that Heroes’ Acre is the perfect place to put him.

“He was upset about being deposed but he cannot refuse being buried here.

“He constructed this thing at [huge] expense… so Mugabe must sleep in his grave.

“In fact they must put him on the top [of the hill] so he can preside over his criminal friends who are buried in this place.”

Mr Mugabe changed his mind about being buried at Hero's Acre
Robert Mugabe changed his mind about being buried at Heroes’ Acre
President Emmerson Mnangagwa pays tribute to the former leader
President Emmerson Mnangagwa pays tribute to the former leader

Mr Mnangagwa planned to bury Mr Mugabe at Heroes’ Acre on Sunday but members of his family intervened, objecting to the government’s plans.

However, Mr Mnangagwa got his way, reportedly by threatening to kick Mr Mugabe’s second wife Grace out of her palatial home, known in Harare as the Blue Roof.

Thus, in a month or so, the former president will be sealed in a mausoleum near the crest of the hill with the current president expected to play a prominent role.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe speaks at the party's annual conference on December 17, 2016 in Masvingo. Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party's congress endorsed on December 17, 2016 President Robert Mugabe as its candidate for the 2018 election, which could extend his 36 years in office. The leader was endorsed by all party structures at the meeting held in Masvingo, 300 kilometres (186 miles) southeast of the capital Harare. / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZ
Robert Mugabe will be buried next month

Dr Ruhanya says Mr Mugabe will be in good company for he will be surrounded by plenty of others who did not want to be interred on the site.

“Just look at Edgar Tekere,” says the academic.

Mr Tekere rose to the top of the ruling ZANU-PF party serving as the secretary-general in the early 1980s but his progress was dashed when he fell out with Mr Mugabe.

“Before he died, [Tekere] was very clear that he didn’t want to be buried in a place where criminals and corrupt people and looters and violent groups [were buried].

“But Mugabe is on record saying that the dead do not decide where they are going to go and it is only their souls that belong to God.

Mugabe's funeral

“The body belongs to the state.”

The government’s funeral plan has been delayed but that delay is only temporary, for Mr Mugabe created a system that cannot be denied – and that system has decided that he will be buried at Heroes’ Acre.

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