Former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe is expected to be buried next weekend after his body is returned from Singapore where he died two days ago, a presidential spokesman said on Sunday.
Mugabe, a guerrilla leader who swept to power after Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain and went on to rule for 37 years until he was ousted in 2017, died on Friday, aged 95.Mugabe, who had been receiving treatment in a Singapore hospital for months before he died on Friday aged 95, dominated Zimbabwe politics for almost four decades from independence in 1980 until he was removed by his own army in November 2017.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba says the body of the late will arrive in Zimbabwe on Wednesday, with an official funeral on Saturday and the burial the following day.
According to AFP, the location of the burial was unclear, with Mugabe’s family and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government apparently at odds over whether it would be at his homestead northwest of Harare or at a shrine for liberation heroes in the capital.
Mugabe’s nephew said earlier Sunday that a delegation was expected to leave Zimbabwe on Monday to collect the hero-turned-despot’s body from Singapore.
Once praised as a liberator who rid Zimbabwe of white minority rule, Mugabe soon turned to repression and fear to govern.
He is widely remembered for brutally crushing political dissent and ruining the economy through mismanagement, prompting mixed reactions to his passing.
In the church where Zimbabwe’s founder Robert Mugabe used to worship, people prayed on Sunday for him to be forgiven.At the packed Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown Harare, congregants remembered him as a devout man who played a role in the church’s upkeep. At Sacred Heart Cathedral, Mugabe’s parish in the capital Harare, the priest encouraged congregants to pray for their founding leader.
“I know some of us may have different feelings about it, but it’s our duty to pray for one another,” Father Justin Jagaja said.
“We are praying for our relatives who have died. Without forgetting to pray for our former president, Comrade Robert Mugabe, we bring him forward to God, we are asking God if there is anything that he did wrong in his life that he be forgiven,” the priest told the congregation, speaking in the local Shona language
Mugabe’s ousting in 2017 was accompanied by celebrations across the country of 13 million. His critics at home and abroad viewed him as a power-obsessed autocrat who unleashed death squads, rigged elections and ruined the economy to keep control.