Mugabe's family rejects government's funeral plans in favour of private burial

Mugabe's family rejects government's funeral plans in favour of private burial

President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to Mugabe's home and said he will consult with the ex-president's widow, Grace, and other family members over the controversial issue of the burial place.

They share Mugabe's bitterness at the way former allies including Mnangagwa conspired to topple him and want him buried in his home village.

Mugabe's family met with President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday afternoon to discuss funeral arrangements.

Mugabe, a guerrilla leader who rose to power after Zimbabwe's independence from Britain and governed until he was ousted by the military in 2017, died on Friday in Singapore, aged 95.

In the meantime, mourners will pay their respects to Mugabe's coffin at a stadium in Harare today.

Robert Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, gave details of the days leading up to his uncle's death, stating that he was only hospitalised five days before he passed on. The family want a private burial.

Trust Nyakabawo, a Mbare resident, said he wanted Mugabe to be buried at National Heroes Acre along with other liberation fighters.

However, Ibbo Mandaza, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera that despite the current president's overtures, the family maintained a tough stance because they too, like the late Mugabe, remain bitter and see Mnangagwa as an illegitimate leader.

Mugabe fired Mnangagwa as first vice president in 2017 - a move many perceived as an attempt to position his wife Grace to succeed him after almost four decades of iron-fisted rule.

Mugabe said on the eve of last year's elections that he was being harassed by Mnangagwa and his government. They are reportedly unhappy about his treatment of the former leader.

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Widow Grace Mugabe, center, wears a black veil as she follows the coffin of former president Robert Mugabe, as it arrives to lie in state inside his official residence in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019.

Mugabe took his oath of office in the same stadium when colonial Rhodesia handed over the reins of the country.

Mr Mugabe was Zimbabwe's first leader after the country became independent in 1980.

Around two thousand supporters, family members and government officials were on the tarmac at Harare airport to welcome Mugabe's remains as they arrived by charter flight from Singapore.

Mugabe's legacy is also marked by a crackdown known as Gukurahundi, which took the lives of an estimated 20,000 alleged "dissidents".

It has always been taken for granted that Mugabe would be buried at Heroes' Acre.

Zimbabweans still struggle to survive, with a once-vaunted public health system now a shambles and the economy still in crisis.

Mnangagwa himself is under pressure after promising to attract investment and create jobs in a post-Mugabe era, with little success.

A massive fuel price hike this year sparked nationwide protests which left at least 17 people dead after soldiers opened fire.

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