Mugabe lies in state as family rejects funeral plans

BY BBC.COM - Sep 13, 2019 at 2:20am 100

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Robert Mugabe's family say they are shocked at not having been consulted by the government about arrangements for the funeral of the former Zimbabwean president.

Mr Mugabe, who was 95, died last week while undergoing medical treatment in a Singapore hospital.

His body is now lying in state at the Rufaro football stadium in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.

His family and the government disagree over Mr Mugabe's final resting place.

Mr Mugabe's family says his body will be displayed in his home village of Kutama on Sunday night, and will be buried at a private ceremony.

Thousands of mourners are queuing up at Rufaro stadium to pay their respects to Mr Mugabe.

There was a brief stampede as people rushed forward to catch a glimpse of the former leader, Reuters news agency reported.

Trust Nyakabawo told Reuters at the Rufaro stadium: "We are in pain after his death because we were so used to seeing him alive as a father figure that led the country well."

Rufaro Stadium is where Mr Mugabe was sworn in as Zimbabwe's first leader in 1980.

"His body will lie in state at Kutama on Sunday night... followed by a private burial - either Monday or Tuesday - no National Heroes' Acre [the national monument for liberation heroes]. That's the decision of the whole family," his nephew Leo Mugabe told the AFP news agency.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa had declared Mr Mugabe a national hero after his death, indicating he should be buried at the national monument. In a statement, the Mugabe family said it was extremely concerned over the way the authorities had made funeral plans "without consulting his immediate family who were tasked with communicating his last wishes in regard to his funeral and burial".

"We have also observed with shock that the government of Zimbabwe is attempting to coerce us to accept a programme for the funeral and burial of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe which is contrary to his wishes on how he wished to have his mortal remains interred."

The statement adds that one of the late leader's final wishes was for his wife, Grace Mugabe, to never leave Mr Mugabe's casket during the funeral up until the point when he is buried.

Mr Mugabe's family is said to be bitter over him being ousted by his former ally Mr Mnangagwa two years ago.

Mr Mugabe fired Mr Mnangagwa in 2017, in what many believed was a way to prepare for Mrs Mugabe to succeed him.

His body was flown back to Zimbabwe from Singapore on Wednesday. It was later taken to Mr Mugabe's Harare villa, known as the Blue Roof, where family and supporters gathered to mourn.

It will lie in state at Rufaro football stadium for two days, ahead of the state funeral on Saturday.

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