Mugabe family bans Matemadanda, Muchinguri from funeral

Oppah Muchinguri and Victor Matemadanda
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HARARE – Robert Mugabe’s family has requested that two senior Zanu PF officials do not attend his funeral, ZimLive understands.

Zanu PF chairperson and defence minister Oppah Muchinguri and the party’s political commissar and deputy defence minister Victor Matemadanda are not welcome at the former leader’s funeral.

This emerged during an emotional family meeting held at Kutama in Zvimba district on Friday, hours after Mugabe’s death at a Singapore hospital was announced.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and former ZIFA boss Phillip Chiyangwa, who were present, were sent to communicate the family’s position, it is understood.

The decision was taken by the inner core of the Mugabe family, the Karigamombe clan, which is also expected to announce soon where he will be buried.

Meanwhile, two of Mugabe’s relatives – nephews Albert Mugabe and Walter Chidhakwa – were due to collect their passports held as part of bail conditions before travelling to Singapore where they will return with the former president’s body.

“People were very emotional. There was a lot of anger that Albert and Walter were refused their passports to go and visit their uncle in his final days,” a family source said.

“There was also a lot of anger towards some Zanu PF officials who said a lot of awful things about Mugabe when he was alive, but will now take centre stage assuming charge of his funeral. Matemadanda and Muchinguri in particular will not be welcomed, they said some unretractable things and their presence can only add insult to injury.”

Albert Mugabe, a former chairman of the roads agency ZINARA, and Walter Chidhakwa, a former mines minister, face corruption charges – just two of dozens of former Mugabe loyalists arrested following his ouster.

Matemadanda, who is also the secretary for war veterans, led attempts to strip Mugabe of various honours, including renaming the main airport in Harare which carries the former leader’s name.

Muchinguri supported Matemadanda’s campaign, labelling Mugabe a “sell-out” after the former leader vowed to vote for Movement for Democratic Change leader Nelson Chamisa in elections last year.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who seized power after Mugabe was ousted in a military coup in November 2017, on Friday said the former leader had been declared a national hero, which allows the state to take charge of his funeral planning.

Mnangagwa, who tried to heal his fractured relationship with Mugabe in the former leader’s last days, is keen to have the funeral held at the Heroes Acre in Harare, although it has been reported that Mugabe told his family he wanted to be laid to rest in Kutama, his rural home.

Dozens of Mugabe’s loyalists who were with him right until the end will not get a chance to bury him, after being scattered by Zimbabwe’s new rulers who are pursuing them with criminal charges.

Saviour Kasukuwere, a minister in Mugabe’s last Cabinet, has flown to Singapore to pay his last respects. He is unable to go to Zimbabwe where Mnangagwa’s government wants to put him in jail over alleged corruption while he was local government minister.

Walter Mzembi, who was Mugabe’s tourism minister and is now banished to exile, told ZimLive: “The irony and hypocrisy of Mugabe’s death is that his detractors, betrayers and enemies are crying more than the bereaved. The loyalists have been stampeded and drowned out, so we are mourning him in silence and reflecting deeply on his legacy.”

It is a view echoed by Tendai Biti, the MDC’s deputy president.

“I’ve seen Emmerson Mnangagwa issuing a tweet mourning Robert Mugabe,” Biti told the BBC on Friday. “I don’t think he’s in a position to do so because if there’s anything that killed Robert Mugabe, apart from old age, it’s the coup of November 2017, and most importantly the betrayal by men and women that he had raised as his own children, in particular Emmerson Mnangagwa himself.”

Mnangagwa, in a late night address to the nation on Friday, declared several days of mourning until Mugabe is laid to rest.

A private jet is set to fly the former president’s body from Singapore within days. Several world leaders are expected at the funeral which could take at least a week to plan. – ZimLive