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Mnangagwa consulted after Mugabe's body temporarily blocked

by ZimLive
27 Sep 2019 at 07:12hrs | Views
Final goodbye … Mourners arriving at the National Sports Stadium in Harare for a state funeral service for former president Robert Mugabe on September 14, 2019 (REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)
Panicked government and security officials temporarily blocked former President Robert Mugabe's body from leaving his Blue Roof residence in Harare on Thursday as the opinion of President Emmerson Mnangagwa was being sought, ZimLive reported.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was described as being "apoplectic" after we first reported that Mugabe's family would snub the National Heroes Acre and bury him in Zvimba instead.

The government had drawn up plans for a mausoleum to be constructed at the hilltop monument where many veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war are buried after pressuring Mugabe's family to abandon its original plans to bury him in Zvimba, which relatives said was the former guerrilla leader's wish.

The mausoleum was not expected to be complete for at least a month.

But in an unexpected move on Thursday, the family said it had reconsidered and would now go ahead with their original plans for a private burial in the village of Kutama, where the former president grew up and his mother his buried.

Key considerations, a source said, were the cost of the mausoleum on the taxpayer; the time it would take to complete and shock new revelations that government engineers had been instructed to construct a single ‘Presidential Mausoleum' which would contain graves of former presidents, not just Mugabe's.

"President Mugabe did not want to be buried at the Heroes Acre to stop those who tormented him in his final days from pontificating over his dead body," a relative said. "It would be unconscionable to have him buried next to the man whom he held most responsible (Mnangagwa)."

Sources said Ziyambi, along with Phillip Chiyangwa who acted as an emissary for Mnangagwa in convincing the family to accept a Heroes Acre burial, made a round of calls to family members demanding to know what had changed.

"Ziyambi was apoplectic. He ordered Doves (funeral directors) not to move the former president's body and wait for his signal," a source familiar with the discussions said.

As the standoff continued with Mnangagwa being consulted, there was a steady build-up of police, military and government officials at the former president's Blue Roof residence.

Mnangagwa, who was travelling back from the United Nations in New York, reportedly advised Ziyambi that they should let the family carry on and only play a facilitating role where required.

This was shortly followed by a government statement which said: "The family of the late President R.G. Mugabe has expressed its desire to proceed with his burial in Zvimba. In line with government policy to respect the families of deceased heroes, government is cooperating with the Mugabe family in their new position.

"Government will render all the necessary support to give the late former president a fitting burial as led by the family."

Mugabe's body was driven out of his home with a police and military escort shortly after 5PM. He was driven through central Harare for the 58km journey to the village of Kutama to await burial this weekend.

Mugabe died in a Singapore hospital on September 6 at the age of 95. President Mnangagwa later said he had "advanced cancer".

Signs that the family was again shifting its stance came on Monday when South African opposition leader Julius Malema travelled to Harare and met Mugabe's widow.

Emerging from the closed-door meeting with Grace Mugabe, the Economic Freedom Fighters leader told reporters that the government had to respect Mugabe's wishes.

"If the current dispensation here believes in President Mugabe, they should protect his legacy. Part of protecting his legacy is first and foremost to respect his last wishes and to respect the wishes of his family," Malema said.

Source - ZimLive