By Idah Mhetu in Zvimba, Mashonaland West
LATE former President Robert Mugabe was Saturday set to be buried in his rural Zvimba homestead in a low key ceremony snubbed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, government and Zanu PF officials.
A few hundred friends, relatives and neighbouring villagers were in attendance to complete a sad anti-climax to the former leader’s rewarding but highly controversial political career spanning nearly half a century.
Media was first barred from entering Mugabe’s homestead where the ceremony took place but was later allowed in amid strict conditions.
There was no notable government official in attendance except for Mashonaland West provincial affairs minister Mary Mliswa who was representing President Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa returned home from the UN General Assembly Friday night.
One of the few signs of government involvement in the ceremony was the presence of members of the Presidential Guard.
Proceedings started around 1300 hours Zimbabwe time with a mass conducted by members of Roman Catholic Church, Mugabe’s church.
By 16.30hrs, the former leader was yet to be buried as speakers gave eulogies of the once powerful President.
Those who addressed mourners include Shuvai Gumbochuma (sister to Mugabe’s widow, Grace), Johannes Karigamombe, identified as brother to the former leader as well as Walter Chidhakwa, former cabinet minister and a relative to the ex-President.
Other identifiable characters who attended include Genius Kadungure AKA Ginimbi, opposition NCA leader Lovemore Madhuku, National Patriotic Front MP Masango ‘Blackman’ Matambanadzo, ex-Zanu PF youth leader Jim Kunaka, former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda and former Zanu PF MP Sarah Mahoka.
Mugabe was set to be buried in a courtyard of one of his houses.
The family has put some burglar bars and screen gates around his burial place to prevent easy access.
Grace did not address the mourners while Minister Mliswa also did not speak.
Mugabe died aged 95 on September 6 in Singapore where he was receiving treatment for cancer and was declared a national hero.
The family snubbed government offers for the once powerful leader to be buried in a mausoleum created for him at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.