A Zimbabwean court on Friday ordered former President Robert Mugabe’s body be exhumed and reburied at the national heroes’ shrine in the capital, Harare. Mugabe, who died in 2019 at age 95, was buried in a courtyard of his family homestead.
In May this year, a traditional chief from the former president’s rural Zvimba area ordered that his remains be interred at the shrine in Harare, where freedom fighters and members of the ruling elite are buried, according to Reuters. Three of Mugabe’s children, Bona, Bellarmine and Tinotenda Mugabe, subsequently appealed the decision at the magistrate court in Chinhoyi town, Harare.
Their lawyer Fungai Chimwamurombe has told Reuters that magistrate Ruth Moyo dismissed the case, ruling that Mugabe’s children had no right to launch an appeal as they were not party to the proceedings by the chief.
“It is a decision we do not agree with. I am consulting my clients and they have a right to appeal,” Chimwamurombe said.
The family may appeal to the High Court. Chimwamurombe said Mugabe’s wife had separately asked for a review of the ruling of the chief. That case will be heard in Chinhoyi on September 21.
Declared a national hero by Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s death has not been stopped short of controversies and disputes between his family and the government as to where he should be laid to rest. While the government preferred his final resting place to be at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, his family, still resentful over the way he was toppled from power, were adamant that he was going to be buried in his home village of Kutama in a private ceremony.
The family have said that Mugabe was against being buried at National Heroes Acre over fears that those who ousted him would want to conduct a traditional ritual with some of his body parts, Reuters reported.
After ruling the Southern African country for 37 years, Mugabe finally resigned on November 21, 2017. The Zimbabwe National Army instigated an overthrow of Mugabe’s regime by placing him under house arrest for the crimes committed by individuals in his circle. He was given the ultimatum to either resign by November 20, 2017, or face impeachment. He subsequently chose the former.
His retirement sparked nationwide jubilations as Zimbabweans celebrated the dawn of a new era. Mugabe’s vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who he fired on November 6, was sworn in as the new president. Mugabe passed away on September 6, 2019, in Singapore where he had been seeking treatment for a long illness.