Zimbabwe's National Museums and Monuments Department has blocked a proposal by some Matabeleland war veterans to exhume the remains of Cecil John Rhodes, founder of colonial Rhodesia, saying Rhodes is a part of Zimbabwean history.
War veterans have for some time been targeting the small stone crypt atop of one of the largest formations in the rugged Matopo Hills. They blame Rhodes’s remains for the lack of rains in recent years, and say they should be sent to Britain. But President Robert Mugabe is said to have issued a directive against disturbing the gravesite.
Rhodes is said to have asked to be buried on the granite outcropping called Malindidzimu Hill or World's View. Nearby is the grave of Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, leader of a bungled raid on Johannesburg just before the 1900 Boer War.
A large monument to colonial settlers also stands on the granite formation.
Godfrey Mahachi, director of Zimbabwe’s National Museums and Monuments Department, told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that Zimbabwe is safeguarding Rhodes’s grave because it is a tangible element of the country’s history.
Mahachi said funds generated by tourism at the grave site are being used to develop and maintain other national monuments in the country.
"That's the way that Rhodes is paying us back as a country, through the money being generated through his grave through tourism and that's a lot," Mahachi said.
Cultural activist Cont Mhlanga said the war veterans should leave Rhode’s grave alone adding that if they really wish to address the plight of the people in the area and the country in general, they should target Rhode’s continuing legacy in terms of businesses that continue to rake in millions at the expense of the ordinary poor.