Remains of Mugabe arrive in Harare

Mugabe's body arrives home to divided Zimbabwe burial dispute

Mugabe’s body arrives home to divided Zimbabwe burial dispute AFP11 Sep 2019

The body of Zimbabwe's former leader Robert Mugabe has arrived at the country's main airport, but his final resting place remains a source of mystery amid a dispute between some family members and the government.

His health deteriorated after he was toppled by the army and former loyalists in November 2017, ending an increasingly iron-fisted rule during which he crushed his opponents.

The freedom fighter turned tyrant died last week in Singapore aged 95.

Police motorbikes escorted the white Mercedes hearse carrying Mugabe's body from Singapore Casket, a funeral parlour where he had been kept since his death.

Leo Mugabe, the late president's nephew and family spokesman, said a charter plane left Harare for Singapore just after 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Monday.

The delegation from Zimbabwe arrived on Tuesday and attended a private Catholic mass for Mugabe at the funeral parlour, which was officiated by a Zimbabwean priest.

He was initially praised for ridding the former British colony Rhodesia of white minority rule, but later used repression and fear to govern until he was finally ousted. During his 37-year authoritarian leadership Zimbabwe descended from prosperity to economic crisis marked by hyperinflation, unemployment and a drastic drop in living conditions for its 16 million people.

His official state funeral will take place at the 60,000-seat venue.

The body will be taken to his rural home, with Zimbabwe's information minister said Mugabe's body will lie in state at two stadiums in the capital for three days.

The 35,000-seater stadium is where Mugabe took his oath of office when Ian Smith, the prime minister under the colonial Rhodesian regime, handed over power.

The Mugabe family publicly invited all Zimbabweans to go to the Harare airport to welcome the former leader's remains, according to an announcement on state media but so far about 100 gathered at the airport, singing songs praising Mugabe. The chiefs have not told us where he will be buried, so it is not clear yet.

The decision has fueled speculation that there are ongoing disagreements between government and Mugabe's family after the former Zanu PF leader reportedly told his close associates that he did not want to buried at the national shrine.

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