The spokesperson for the family of former President Robert Mugabe, has settled the confusion around the burial date and site for the late leader, ending days of uncertainty over whether Mugabe will be buried at the national shrine, or his rural home in Zvimba, Mashonaland West Province.
“The family has now pronounced the burial place for President Mugabe, it will be at National Heroes Acre, on Sunday,” Leo Mugabe told VOA and other journalists at Rufaro Stadium where Mugabe’s body is lying in state for public viewing.
However, Mugabe further expounded, the actual burial of the body will be at a later date, though a burial ceremony will take place on Sunday, complete with a 21-gun salute, he explained.
“The actual burial will happen at a later date because the traditional leaders have requested the government to prepare where he’s going to be buried, in terms of what they want and how they want the place to be prepared,” said Leo Mugabe, a nephew of the former president.
According to state media, the burial could take place in October, to allow at least 30-days for the construction of the gravesite, as requested by the chief.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reportedly said the government “will respect and support any decision made by the family,” as quoted by the national broadcaster, ZBC.
Responding to reporters' questions about whether or not the family was forced into burying Mugabe at Heroes Acre, the spokesperson said "no".
“No, no. We were not forced, we were not coerced. In fact if anything, when they declared him a national hero, the chiefs and the family deliberated on various issues, and today they pronounced that they want it at the National Heroes Acre.”
Further dispelling rumors of a feud between his family and the government, Leo Mugabe said while the family was hurt by the Zanu-PF and government’s treatment of the former president, they were grateful for the help extended to Mugabe for treatment and repatriation of his body back to Zimbabwe.
Leo Mugabe also shot down reports that government bribed the chiefs and family into agreeing to the National Heroes Acre burial.
“The chiefs, when they went to see the president (Mnangagwa), I accompanied them. There was no money, coercion that took place in that meeting,” said Leo Mugabe.
“The chiefs were thanking the government for the assistance they had rendered to President Mugabe during his time in Singapore, paying all the bills, sending money, and so forth, and then finally, they declared him a national hero, and they sent a chartered flight to pick up his remains from Singapore. And honestly, to anybody in his right senses, they have to say thank you,” said Mugabe.
Asked about the future of former first lady, Grace Mugabe, Leo Mugabe said she would stay in Zimbabwe because it is her home.
“She will settle here. She is Zimbabwean. She has no reason to go anywhere. She will be at her house and I am sure she will start to do her normal work the she’ll always be doing – the farm, the business, and so on.”
Overall, Mugabe said he's personally happy with the "fitting" treatment his late uncle has received since the announcement of his death, last Friday.