Why African Heads Of State And Governments Were Absent At Late Mugabe’s Burial

By Stephen Ubanna

 Not may be people were surprised that Cyril Ramophosa, President of South Africa and Chairman, African Union a, AU, and other African Heads of State and Government , were at New York to attend the United Nations , UN, General Assembly Meeting, instead of being  at the burial of Late Robert Mugabe, a former President of Zimbabwe and who  incidentally was one of the longest member of the Union having ruled his country for 37  years.

This is because of the exclusion of the Zimbabwean government from the burial arrangement by the Family, which could have made it a state burial at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, the country’s Capital. The former Zimbabwean leader’s family were said to have refused the involvement of the government in the burial on the ground that he was ridiculed in 2017, by the military for removing him from power and replaced him with  Emmerson Manangawa, his estranged former Vice President, who fought alongside, with him during  the country’s Liberation war.

Recall that prior to his death in the Asian country of Singapore Hospital  on September 6, 2019, at the age of 95, the late Zimbabwean leader was said to have sounded a note of warning to the family members not allow his body to be taken for burial at the National Hero’s Acre by the government.  ‘’I will not be buried at the Heroes Acre. I was ridiculed’’, he was reported to have repeatedly said. Note that he had died of prostrate of Cancer, according to the Doctor’s diagnosis.

Aware of the deep animosity of the former First Family against the government, Manangawa, had pushed for the government be allowed to bury him  at the Heroes Acre Shrine which was  developed by him in Harare. It was reported that the government had pushed to bury the former President at the Heroes Shrine in Harare, but only after a Hilltop  mausoleum  was built  to set him apart from former Heroes of the country’s Liberation war buried there.

 The  government may have taken the decision to gladden the heart of the family members and the last followers of the former President,  in order to make it a state burial that would attract other foreign Heads of States and Governments, particular, his former Colleagues in the AU and Diplomats.

Late President Mugabe

 According to Diplomatic sources, the family had played along with the government without making known its intention which was kept a closely guided secret.

 Barely three days to the final burial of the former Zimbabwean leader regarded as ‘’a founding father, liberator and torch bearer’’, in political circles, the family were said to have changed its mind, forcing the government to  cancel  its  elaborate preparations that had been made to receive foreign dignitaries for the burial .

 In apparent reaction to the family Change of mind, President, Manangawa,  on Thursday, September  26, 2019, told the mourning nation of the  family decision  to bury the former President. It came as a shock to the Manangawa and other senior government Officials. This may have forced him to travel to Nework, for the UN, General Asssembly meeting to overcome the shock and embarrassment.

The family was said to have  made all the n burial arrangement  at his Kutama village in Zvimba district, on Saturday, September 28, 2019. It was therefore not very surprising why Manangawa and senior Zimbabwean government Officials including foreign dignitaries were absent at the burial described as’’ low key event’’.

Only family members were said to have witnessed his interment, which took place in a dusty courtyard on his Kutama property . Shuvai Gunbochuma, the junior sister of Grace, the former First Lady of Zimbabwe, may have spoken the mind of the family members when she said that they were worried about the’’ low key burial’’. She noted that given his kind of person,  late Mugabe’s burial ought to be a special one at the National Heroes Acre, where he had buried other Heroes in the past.

Political watchers believe that the burial of the former Zimbabwean despot  marks an end  of an’’arm  wrestling match  that has been going on for weeks  between his  relatives and the Manangawa government, over his final resting place’’. The AFP reports that the battle between the family and the government illustrated the high tensions that had been going on for almost two years between the last followers of the former President and Manangawa. But the family and late Mugabe followers had the last word.

Until his death, Mugabe , was said to have held a tenacious grudge  against Manangawa, but that could  not stop him in ensuring that the government footed his medical bills in the Singaporean Hospital which ran into millions of dollar.

In assessing his 37 rule of Zimbabwe,  Political analysts believe  that he left the country traumatised by repression   and ruined  by economic crisis, which the Managawa Administration  has been battling since 2017 to fix.

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