Zimbabwe chief orders Mugabe remains to be exhumed for reburial at heroes’ shrine

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The family of Robert Mugabe have been ordered to exhume the remains of the late dictator for reburial at a monument to Zimbabwe’s national heroes, in a move likely to rekindle a row over the memory of one of Africa’s foremost revolutionary leaders.

A traditional chief made the order after accusing Mugabe’s second wife, Grace, of breaking local custom by interring him at his rural home.

Mugabe, whose increasingly authoritarian 37-year rule was ended by a coup in November 2017, was buried at his village of Kutama in 2019 after weeks of dispute with the government of his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Senior officials had made it clear they wanted the remains of the former dictator to be buried at Zimbabwe’s national heroes’ shrine outside Harare and may now get their way.

Though much of Mugabe’s rule was marked by violence, economic mismanagement and corruption, the former guerrilla fighter is still revered as a liberation leader for his role in the war against white supremacist rule. His funeral in Harare was attended by dozens of current and former heads of state from across Africa.

Mnangagwa was a close aide and ally of Mugabe and has sought to reinforce his own image through association with the former revolutionary leader. Much of the legitimacy of the ruling Zanu-PF party relies on the legacy of the late president.

Chief Zvimba, whose district includes Kutama, said he had received a complaint from a Mugabe clan member over the manner of his burial.

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