HARARE- President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday met Zvimba traditional leaders to plead with them to allow former president Robert Mugabe to be buried at the National Heroes Acre amid resistance from some family members.
Government sources said Mnangangwa, who is desperate to appease the family and send a signal to Mugabe’s allies locally and internationally that he had a working relationship with the late leader, pleaded with traditional leaders to allow Mugabe to be buried at the hilltop monument in Harare.
“The chiefs were summoned to Munhumutapa (government offices) so that a discussion on where the former president would be laid to rest would be undertaken. The president was worried with attempts by some people to influence the family so that they refuse to have the former leader buried at the national shrine,” said a source.
Jonathan Moyo, a Mugabe ally and former minister driven into exile during a 2017 military coup that collapsed the government, claimed on Twitter that Mnangagwa had offered bribes to the traditional leaders in order to secure a burial at the Heroes Acre, even as some in the family insist the former leader gave instructions that he wanted to be buried in rural Zvimba next to his mother.
By late Tuesday, a decision had not yet been made on where Mugabe would be buried as the traditional leaders who were led by chief Zvimba said they would make an announcement after the arrival of Mugabe’s remains on Wednesday.
“The chiefs told the president that Mugabe, as a traditional leader in the Gushugo clan, should be buried according to the norms of their culture,” a senior government official briefed on the discussions said.
The chiefs outlined what ought to be done and expressed their disappointment that Mnangagwa did not have a one-on-one meeting with his former boss to iron-out their misunderstanding that led to Mugabe’s ouster in a November 2017 military coup.
Moyo claimed the traditional leaders had been offered money to deliver Mugabe’s body to the Heroes Acre.
“Instead of going to mourn with them, he’s summoning the chiefs of the bereaved to his office to bribe them with $10K cash bundles and promises of cars for the corrupt purpose of getting them to defy Gushungo’s now known declaration to rest next to his mother at his ancestral home,” Moyo tweeted, referring to Mnangagwa’s meeting with the chiefs.
Mugabe, who turned 95 in February, died in Singapore last Friday and his body is due to arrive in Harare on Wednesday afternoon.
The body, according to the programme, will be taken to One Commando barracks before being put on public display at Rufaro Stadium on Thursday and Friday.
On Saturday, Mugabe’s body would be taken to the National Sports Stadium where a state funeral service with foreign dignitaries is set to be held.
Burial was originally set for Sunday, but there were suggestions from the Mugabe family on Tuesday that this could be pushed back.
Source: Zim Live