Mugabe's body heads back to a divided Zimbabwe for burial

Clay Curtis
September 12, 2019

Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's body will lie in state on Thursday and Friday. Thousands of people gathered to watch as the plane carrying dictator's remains landed at Harare's worldwide airport, which bears his name, early in the afternoon.

Mugabe died at a Singapore hospital last week; he was 95. This is where Mugabe's father, Gabriel and his second wife, MaTshuma, Gabriel's younger brother Leo Matibiri, Paul Maketo Matibiri and Cletus Matibiri, father of the former police boss Innocent Matibiri, were buried. This will likely break the impasse and allow Mugabe to be buried at the national shrine on Sunday.

The Sunday Mail quoted presidential spokesman George Charamba in reporting Mnangagwa and family members will receive the body at the airport named after the former president in the capital, Harare.

Wednesday's subdued airport gathering was a far cry from the tumultuous crowd of 100,000 that swarmed the airport in January 1980 to welcome Mugabe back after years in exile. "The Delegation pledged full support to government arrangements and programmes which are being drawn up and executed in close consultation with the family of the late departed", he said. A programme would be announced by the home affairs ministry later in the day, he said.

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Daniel Kilgore, for one, wouldn't be sad to see them go. "I think for us, we just need to focus on what's going on inside our building and not worry about anything going on outside".

Mugabe's casket was then taken to a nearby military barracks for prayers before going to the family's 25-bedroom home in the posh Borrowdale suburb for an evening gathering. They share Mugabe's bitterness at the way former allies including Mnangagwa conspired to topple him and want him buried in his home village. But the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association (ZNLWVA) Mashonaland West chapter has come out guns blazing, declaring that no one should be barred from attending Mugabe's funeral. "They have dented his legacy, it was not an easy thing", a family spokesperson said.

All that, as we said, was expected.

Up to the mid-1990s Mr Mugabe held our respect, to the point that on September 5, 1996 he was conferred with an honorary Order of Jamaica "in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the fight for liberation and the overthrow of apartheid in Southern Africa, and his distinct leadership in the pursuit of freedom and human development throughout the African continent".

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe looks up as he attends the opening ceremony of the High Level Segment of The United Nations Climate Change Conference on December 15, 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. But we should weigh the good deeds he takes to his grave versus the few undesirable things that are attributed to him.

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