Zimbabweans will today September 12, pay their last respect to Mugabe at a Harare football stadium, where his body would lie in state before being taken to his rural home in Kutama which is 85km from the capital.
The late ousted president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe while alive was a very controversial figure and this seems to have continued even in his death. The place for his burial on Sunday has been a controversy between the government and his family members who are also divided against themselves.
Mugabe’s regime was marred with several controversies which include economic mismanagement, government corruption, nepotism and human rights abuses. He turned a country which had the chances of becoming one of the best nations in Africa into a failed state. The country was hit by debt, financial fraud, drought and loss of investor confidence. According to the World Bank, one-fifth of the population lives in extreme poverty and corruption monitoring group, Transparency International estimates that Zimbabwe loses about $1 billion a year to graft. Despite facing poverty and food shortages, Mugabe still celebrated his birthday every February in a lavish style by serving Buffalo, elephant and lion meat. His 93rd birthday party in 2017 was estimated to have cost the cash strapped country up to $2 million.
Mugabe who was known as the grandmaster of Rhodesia Bush War (1964-1979) and the second Chimurenga died in the early hours of Friday, September 6, in Singapore after being treated for more than four months. The death of Mugabe who ruled the southern African nation for 37 years, until he was ousted by his own army in November 2017, highlights a major challenge in Zimbabwe’s health systems.
The fight over where he will be buried is threatening to embarrass his successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and deepen divisions in the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The ruling government of Mnangagwa wants Mugabe, buried at a national monument to heroes of the liberation war against the white minority Rhodesian regime. But some of his relatives don’t want him to be buried there because they share Mugabe’s bitterness of the way he was toppled by former allies including Mnangagwa. As a result of this, they want him buried in his home village.
President Mnangagwa who is unhappy about this embarrassment on his regime is also under fire over an economic crisis plaguing the country. Some people have even said that his administration is worse than that of the late president Mugabe. According to sources, the president sent a delegation to Singapore, to negotiate with the family but some government officials are optimistic that this could yield a positive result since members of Mugabe’s family are divided.
While the body of Mugabe has already arrived Zimbabwe his place of burial remains a mystery since no one knows where he will be buried.