Relatives of Robert Mugabe have expressed their anger at being railroaded by Zimbabwe’s government over plans for the former leader’s funeral and burial.
A statement, issued by Mr Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, said family members had not been consulted.
“We have also observed with shock that the government of Zimbabwe is attempting to coerce us to accept a programme for the funeral and burial of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe which is contrary to his wishes on how he wished to have his mortal remains interred.”
The family was willing to work with the government on arrangements “in conformance to his wishes on how his mortal remains will be interred”, the statement continued.
They say the man who led Zimbabwe for 37 years wanted to be buried in his rural home, but the government has declared him a “national hero” and reserved a plot for him at the Heroes’ Acre shrine just outside the capital, Harare.
Another of Mr Mugabe’s nephew’s told AFP news agency on Thursday morning that the family were agreed on this.
“His body will lie in state at Kutama on Sunday night… followed by a private burial, either Monday or Tuesday, no national Heroes’ Acre. That’s the decision of the whole family,” Leo Mugabe is quoted as saying.
Another key issue of concern for the family, according to their statement, was that Mr Mugabe’s widow Grace should never leave the coffin until the burial.
“One of the wishes of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe indicated that his wife, Dr Grace Mugabe, MUST NEVER leave the casket bearing his remains for the duration of the funeral proceedings whilst in Zimbabwe up until his mortal remains have been interred.”
Zimbabweans will have an opportunity to see Mr Mugabe’s body over the next two days in Harare at Rufaro Stadium, where nearly 40 years ago he raised the flag of independence.
His body was flown home on Wednesday from Singapore where he died last week aged 95.