Harare — Foreign leaders, supporters and ordinary citizens attended the state funeral on Saturday of Zimbabwe’s founder Robert Mugabe showering lot of encomiums, after several disagreement over burial arrangement that threatened to shame his successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Robert Mugabe who led Zimbabwe for 37 years, from independence until he was overthrew by the army in November 2017. He died in a Singapore hospital on September 6 aged 95.
His remains will be interred in a mausoleum at the National Heroes Acre in the capital Harare in about 30 days, his nephew said on Friday, contradicting earlier comments that a burial would be held on Sunday.
Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former deputy who conspired to topple him, said late on Friday that building the mausoleum would delay the burial of the man who was once his mentor.
On Saturday, Mnangagwa walked behind the casket carrying Mugabe’s body as it was wheeled into the centre of Harare’s National Sports Stadium and placed on a podium decorated with flowers so that ordinary Zimbabweans could say their farewells. Senior army generals and Mugabe’s wife and children followed, as a brass band played.
“Today, let us put aside our differences and come together as we remember the past and look to the future as one proud, independent and free nation,” the president wrote on Twitter.
Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party wanted Mugabe buried at the national shrine to heroes of the 15-year liberation war against white minority rule. But some relatives, expressing bitterness at the way former comrades ousted Mugabe, had pushed for him to be buried in his home village.
Representing President Muhamamdu Buhari of Nigeria, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the legacy of determined, proud and assertive black emancipation left by late Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe will live long in the hearts of Africans.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, said the vice president conveyed the message on the condolence register for Mugabe at Harare International Airport.
Osinbajo was in Zimbabwe to represent President Muhammadu Buhari at the state funeral of the late former president of Zimbabwe.