Zimbabwe has announced that former president Robert Mugabe would be buried at his home village in Zvimba as requested by his family, after three weeks of public debates over his final resting place.
The government on Thursday said the family of the former leader, who died in Singapore on September 6 aged 95, “has expressed its desire to proceed with his burial in Zvimba”.
“In line with the government policy to respect the wishes of families of deceased heroes, government is cooperating with the Mugabe family in their new position,” the information ministry said in a statement.
Tensions erupted after the government proposed a burial at the National Heroes Acre in capital Harare, while the family insisted on a private ceremony in Mugabe’s homestead.
Nick Mangwana, permanent secretary at the ministry, told Reuters News Agency that his understanding was that the burial would take place on Saturday during a private ceremony.
The family was not immediately reachable for comment, but a close family associate and some local media also said the burial would take place on Saturday.
The former rebel leader, who came to power at the end of the white minority rule in 1980 and ruled Zimbabwe uninterrupted for 37 years and seven months, died of prostate cancer, according to his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mugabe’s rule included political violence that forced up to one in five citizens into exile, but some Zimbabweans still saw the former president as a liberation hero.
He was toppled on November 2017 in a military-backed coup, ending an increasingly iron-fisted rule marked by political oppression and economic ruin.
Mugabe’s health deteriorated rapidly after his removal and he made regular trips to Singapore to seek treatment.
Mugabe, who was bitter over the way he was overthrown in the coup, had told family members that he wanted to be buried in Zvimba.
But President Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former right-hand man who turned against him, pushed for his predecessor to be buried at the National Heroes Acre monument to display a public reconciliation with Mugabe’s family and admirers.
Two weeks ago, the family said they had agreed that he would be buried at the monument in about a month after a mausoleum was built for him.
But on Thursday, they made an about-turn, reverting to their original plan.