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Mugabe to be buried in Zimbabwe hometown following family request

Media captionThe BBC’s Shingai Nyoka said the national stadium in Harare was not full, as some African leaders paid tribute to Mugabe

The body of Robert Mugabe will be buried in his home region of Zvimba, Zimbabwean officials have said.

The former Zimbabwean leader died this month, aged 95, and a state funeral was held in the country’s capital Harare.

His family had asked for him to be buried at a private ceremony in his home town, west of the city.

But a feud erupted after President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he would be interred at Heroes Acre, a monument to those who fought British colonial rule.

The Mugabe family announced that they would support this once a mausoleum was built, and his body has been held in his birthplace, Kutama.

On Thursday, the government appeared to backtrack on the arrangement, however, and a burial ceremony is expected to be held on Saturday.

It was unclear what has prompted this sudden change.

In a statement, Information Minister Nick Mangwana said the move was in line with policy “to respect the wishes of families of deceased heroes”.

Mr Mugabe died in Singapore while receiving treatment for cancer, and his body was flown back to Zimbabwe.

His family had earlier complained that they were not consulted about arrangements for the state funeral.

In a statement they accused the government of coercion, and said plans to bury him at the the monument were “contrary to [Mr Mugabe’s] wishes”.

The statement added that one of his 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.

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AFP

Image caption

It is believed that Zimbabwe”s former first lady, Grace Mugabe, was intended to be her husband’s successor before he was ousted in 2017

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

Mr Mnangagwa was fired from Mr Mugabe’s administration in 2017, in what many believed was a move to prepare Mrs Mugabe to succeed him.

Who was Robert Mugabe?

A former guerrilla leader, Mr Mugabe was Zimbabwe’s first leader after the country became independent in 1980. He held on to power for almost four decades before being ousted in the 2017 coup.

During his early years, he was praised for broadening access to health and education for the black majority.

However his later years were marked by violent repression of his political opponents and Zimbabwe’s economic run. An increasing number of critics labelled him a dictator.

He seized land from white owners in 2000.

Media captionMugabe: From war hero to resignation

Mr Mugabe famously declared that only God could remove him from office.

In 2017 he was placed under house arrest and four days later, replaced as the leader of his party Zanu-PF by his former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mr Mugabe initially refused to resign. But, on 21 November, as a motion to impeach him was being debated in the Zimbabwean parliament, the speaker of the House of Assembly announced that Robert Mugabe had finally resigned.

Mugabe negotiated a deal which protected him and his family from the risk of future prosecution and enabled him to retain his various business interests. He was also granted a house, servants, vehicles and full diplomatic status.

Mugabe to be buried in Zimbabwe hometown following family request

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