Robert Mugabe must be dug up and reburied in national monument, Zimbabwean chief says

Robert Mugabe must be dug up and reburied in national monument, Zimbabwean chief says
Late leader’s wife accused of breaking local custom by burying husband in courtyard of his home

Robert Mugabe’s remains must be dug up and reburied at a national heroes’ shrine in Zimbabwe’s capital, a traditional chief has said.

Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup that brought Emmerson Mnangagwa to power in November 2017, was buried in his village of Kutama in 2019 after weeks of dispute with Mr Mnangagwa’s government over his final resting place.

But now a traditional chief in the Zvimba district has said he had received a complaint from a Mugabe clan member over the manner of his burial.

Mr Zvimba issued a ruling on Monday that found the late leader’s wife, Grace Mugabe, guilty of breaking local custom by burying her husband in the courtyard of his home.

The former first lady, who did not attend the hearing, was fined five cows and a goat.

“I give powers to those who are permitted by law to exhume the late Robert Mugabe’s remains from Kutama and rebury them at the National Heroes Acre in Harare,” said a copy of the ruling in the local Shona language.

Leo Mugabe, a nephew of the late Zimbabwean leader and spokesman for his family, immediately rejected Mr Zvimba’s ruling.

“He has no jurisdiction over Kutama. And even if the correct chief had made that ruling we would have appealed to the court,” he told Reuters.

Chiefs in Zimbabwe have jurisdiction over their local subjects but it is rare for them to order families to exhume bodies for reburial.

The chief’s order will likely rekindle a row over Mugabe’s final resting place.

Mr Mnangagwa had pushed for Mugabe to be buried at the monument for liberation war heroes in the capital, Harare, but the family refused, saying Mugabe had expressed fears to close family members before his death that some of the people who ousted him would seek to conduct a traditional ritual with some of his body parts.