Zim government, Mugabe's family at odds over the former leader's burial

Zimbabwe Ex-president to be buried at national shrine

Zimbabwe's founder Robert Mugabe will be buried at a national shrine in Harare on Sunday, the Mugabe family spokesman said on Friday, contradicting comments a day earlier which suggested the family was resisting the government's burial plans.

Mugabe died in Singapore last week aged 95, leaving Zimbabweans torn over the legacy of a leader once lauded as a colonial-era liberation hero, but whose autocratic 37-year rule ended in a coup in 2017.

The Mugabe family has rejected the government's plan for an official funeral and burial on Sunday, saying it wants to lay the former president to rest in a private ceremony.

Some of Mugabe's relatives have expressed bitterness at the way former close associates, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa, ousted him.

When darkness approached, a helicopter arrived to carry Mugabe's body back to his home.

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"Yes I can confirm", Leo Mugabe told reporters when asked whether the family had agreed to a burial in National Heroes Acre in Harare.

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 global pariah. "Once they are finalised - it will take a bit of time for the works to be done, perhaps as much as a week - thereafter he will then then be buried at the Heroes Acre during a private service".

Mnangagwa had declared Mugabe a national hero after his death, indicating he should be buried at the monument for his role as a founding father. "I call upon you commander-in-chief, I call upon you to help the family have the wishes of President Mugabe recognised", he said.

Mnangagwa visited Mugabe's family on Thursday morning to pay respects, holding a private meeting with Grace, Mugabe's widow, seeking to change her mind but to no avail. Mugabe was overthrown by the military following massive protests. Mugabe's body arrived in Zimbabwe from Singapore on Wednesday and started three days of lying in state on Thursday.

Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu-PF party had planned for a state funeral this weekend. In all, 11 sitting heads of state are expected and eight former presidents will be in attendance, according to government spokesman George Charamba.

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