Robert Mugabe's body arrives in Harare, kicking off funeral programme

Robert Mugabe's body arrives in Harare, kicking off funeral programme

According to Leo, Mugabe was a chief hence he would be buried according to traditional rites.

"Mugabe was an outstanding national liberation movement leader and politician of Zimbabwe", said China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, while Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Mr Mugabe made a great personal contribution to the battle for Zimbabwe's Independence and to the building of Zimbabwean State institutions.

Mugabe, a guerrilla leader who rose to power after Zimbabwe's independence from Britain and governed until he was ousted by the military in 2017, died in Singapore on Friday, aged 95.

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

Meanwhile, his body is expected to arrive in Zimbabwe on Wednesday before being taken to Rufaro Stadium in Mbare township on Thursday for public viewing by the nation.

However, family spokesman Leo Mugabe, a nephew of the former president, said over the weekend that burial arrangements have not yet been finalized.

President Mnangagwa on Tesday met with chiefs from Zvimba, elders and members of the Mugabe family, led by Chief Zvimba, regarding burial arrangements of former President Robert Mugabe.

Thousands of Mugabe's supporters showed up at the airport, wearing shirts with his face.

Mugabe's family is pushing back against the government's plan to bury him at the National Heroes Acre monument in the Zimbabwe capital Harare and wants him to be interred in his home village, relatives have told Reuters.

The 35 000-seat stadium is where Mugabe took his oath of office at a colourful ceremony when colonial Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith handed over the reins of the country.

His body will be taken to his home area of Zvimba, west of Harare for an overnight wake, reports the AFP news agency. A programme would be announced by the home affairs ministry later in the day, he said. He added that the burial site would be known once the body arrived and after consultations with the family.

Mugabe left behind an economy wrecked by hyperinflation and deeply entrenched corruption, and a raging political rivalry between Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

It said: "Notwithstanding our legendary differences with Mr Mugabe, we have no reason to exhibit barbarity by hosting a national festivity during his funeral".

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