HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The burial of Zimbabwe’s founding president, President Robert Mugabe, will be delayed for at least a month until a special mausoleum can be built at a prominent spot at the national Heroes’ Acre monument, the latest turn in a dramatic tussle between his family and the country’s current leader, a once-trusted deputy who helped oust Mugabe from power.
The decision to build a new resting place for the ex-leader, who died at age 95 in Singapore last week, came after consultations with influential traditional chiefs, Mugabe’s nephew, Leo Mugabe, told reporters.
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The announcement followed days of controversy over where he should be laid to rest, with Mugabe’s widow, Grace, insisting on a private burial rather than the state funeral and burial in a simple plot alongside other national heroes planned by the government.
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“The construction will take about 30 days to complete,” Leo Mugabe said. “The burial will not take place until it is finished.” He said Mugabe’s body would be preserved until then
President Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed the plans for a grand edifice as Mugabe’s final resting place
“We are building a mausoleum for our founding father at the top of the hill at Heroes’ Acre,” Mnangagwa said on state television Friday night
“It won’t be finished, so we will only bury him after we have completed construction of the mausoleum.”
The Heroes’ Acre monument is reserved for top officials of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party who contributed to ending white colonial rule
Mugabe oversaw its construction with North Korean architects atop a prominent hill, featuring a towering sculpture of guerrilla fighters
There are about 130 national heroes buried there, each on a flat surface marked by simple black marble slabs
Mugabe’s first wife, Sally, is buried there and a space next to her had been reserved for Mugabe
But Leo Mugabe said the deceased leader will not be buried next to his first wife
The Mugabe family and the traditional chiefs have decided that the mausoleum will be built at a spot, elevated above the other graves