HARARE – A fresh war has erupted over the burial of the late president Robert Mugabe with a Zvimba villager dragging the erstwhile strongman’s widow Grace to a traditional court over the matter.
Mugabe, who died in September 2019 aged 95, was buried at his Kutama homestead in Zvimba after Grace and her children rejected the government’s offer to have his remains interred at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
The Mugabe family said the long-serving ruler made it clear while on his deathbed that he did not want to be buried at the national shrine following a spectacular fallout with his ruling Zanu PF after a military coup that ousted in him in 2017.
Tinos Manovengere is said to have approached Chief Zvimba seeking to have Grace censured amid revelations that some still want his remains reburied in Harare.
According to leaked WhatsApp messages, one of Mugabe’s prominent nephews consulted a Harare-based lawyer on the legal implications of the case now before Chief Zvimba.
The messages said if Grace was found guilty by the traditional court, “corrective measures would be taken to rebury Mugabe”.
Others said Mugabe was an international figure and exhuming his remains would be an embarrassment for the country.
They said the late Zanu PF leader’s children had the right to decide, warning Chief Zvimba to be cautious.
“If he failed to handle the situation before Mugabe was buried, will he manage that now?” one of them asked.
The lawyer said the court would likely ask the rationale behind challenging Mugabe’s burial two years after he was laid to rest.
“The modern courts and judges would ask as to why you waited for so long to take action against that burial,” the lawyer advised.
“The world would want to know what Chief Zvimba and the complainant would lose or suffer if Mugabe’s remains buried in Kutama Village.
“The issue of Mugabe’s burial was debated and covered by newspapers until it was finally said he was going to be buried in Kutama. The judges will ask why you didn’t apply for an injunction without delay.”
Mugabe family spokesperson Leo Mugabe said he was not aware of the WhatsApp messages and the case against Grace.
He said the Manovengeres were his uncles but said they had nothing to do with Mugabe’s Karigamombe family.
“I don’t know anything about that. I am learning it from you. If there is something like that, Chief Zvimba should have told me,” he said.
“Social media can mislead. I have never been in any WhatsApp group.”
A Mugabe family member said the chief was yet to set a date for a hearing. He said they suspected a powerful hand was behind the case.
Grace was not available for comment as she is said to be in Singapore.
Chief Zvimba was also not reachable on his mobile phone yesterday. – The Standard