Zimbabwe traditional chief orders Mugabe remains exhumed, reburied at heroes’ shrine

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The state funeral of Zimbabwe’s longtime ruler Robert Mugabe at a national sports stadium in Harare. PHOTO/ COURTESY

HARARE – A traditional chief in Zimbabwe has ordered the remains of former President Robert Mugabe exhumed and reburied at the national heroes’ shrine in Harare.

The chief accused former first lady Grace Mugabe of going against the country’s customs by interring him in their native village, Kutama in 2019.


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Mugabe, was ousted in a military coup where his long time friend Emmerson Munangagwa took over power in November 2017.

He then fell ill and died in 2019 while undergoing treatment in Singapore.

The head of state was then buried in the village despite after a dispute with the government that wanted him buried at the national heroes’ shrine.

The traditional chief sitting in Zvimba district, which covers Kutama, received a complain from a member from the Mugabe citing the manner in which President Mugabe was buried.

The chief presided over the village court Thursday last week, and Monday this week found the former first lady guilty of breaking traditional norms by burying her husband in the courtyard of his home.

Grace did not attend the hearing and was fined five cows and a goat.

The chief in his ruling, allowed those permitted by law to exhume the late Robert Mugabe’s remains from Kutama and rebury them at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

But Mugabe’s family was quick to reject the ruling through their family spokes person, Leo Mugabe.

The spokes person said the chief had no jurisdiction over adding that they would have appealed the ruling had the correct chief made the ruling.

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

President Mnangagwa had pushed for Mugabe to be buried at the monument for liberation war heroes, but the family refused.

The argued that Mugabe had expressed fears to some of the family members that some of the people who removed him from power would perform rituals with his body parts.

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


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