Robert Mugabe to be buried next week in his village: Family

Mugabe family opts for private burial date location unknown

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangangwa is visiting the home of late former President Robert Mugabe to convey his condolences.

Grace Mugabe wept by her husband's coffin today after the body of Zimbabwe's former dictator was returned to his home in Harare - with his family apparently gaining the upper hand in a row about his funeral.

Mugabe died in Singapore last week at the age of 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 also told the Zimbabwean Government to respect the former president's wishes on how he wished to have his mortal remains interred.

In a statement posted Thursday, the family accused the government of "attempting to coerce us" to accept a funeral plan that is "contrary to his wishes".

His family want him to rest in his rural home, but the government has declared him a "national hero" and reserved a grave for him at the Heroes' Acre shrine just outside Harare.

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

Soon after, Mugabe was toppled by protesters and the army in what was seen as part of a power struggle within the ruling ZANU-PF party between pro-Mnangagwa factions and Mugabe loyalists siding with his wife Grace.

Mnangagwa visited Mugabe's mansion Thursday, viewing the casket and paying respects to the former president's widow, Grace. It was later taken to Mr Mugabe's Harare villa, known as the Blue Roof, where family and supporters gathered to mourn.

The coffin of the late former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe at his residence in Harare, Sept. 12, 2019.

For more we cross to SABC NEWS reporter Chriselda Lewis.

His violent seizure of white-owned farms helped ravage the economy, sent foreign investors fleeing and turned Mugabe into an global pariah - even if his status as a liberation hero still resonates in Africa.

"The chiefs in Zvimba still regard him as a chief and in terms of tradition, they are the ones that determine where is he going to be buried, how is he going to be buried, the procedures that must be followed in his burial".

Later Thursday the casket is to be taken to Rufaro Stadium in Harare's poor Mbare neighborhood and then to Zvimba, Mugabe's birthplace 85 kilometers (55 miles) northwest of the capital, where it is expected to stay overnight.

On Saturday a ceremony will be held at the National Sports Stadium, which several African heads of state and other prominent officials are expected to attend.

In Harare's Rufaro stadium, where preparations are under way for the arrival of his body, hundreds of mourners in the regalia of the governing Zanu-PF party have arrived.

Upon completion of the facelift, the Robert Mugabe International Airport is expected to be a regional hub for airlines in a move expected to help restore the country's status in the aviation sector which at its peak hosted over 40 air carriers.

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