By Costa Nkomo
REPORTS that former President Robert Mugabe has told close associates that he does not want to be buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare when he dies seem to have rattled both government and the ruling party with senior figures unsure of how to respond to the issue.
Mugabe was pushed out of power in November 2017 by a combination of the military and nationwide demonstrations and has never forgiven his erstwhile comrades in Zanu PF and government for the betrayal, chief among them, his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa whom he had sacked as Vice President two weeks earlier.
The man who announced the military takeover, now Foreign Affairs Minister and Retired Lieutenant General Sibusiso Moyo, said Mugabe was within his rights to choose where he wanted to be laid to rest.
“It’s his right. I can’t comment,” Moyo said when asked on the sidelines of the 39th Heroes Day celebrations on Monday.
War veterans secretary general and Deputy Defence Minister Victor Matemadanda said Mugabe would be in a better position to answer questions on his decision.
“You can go and ask him. Why he does not want to buried here,” he told reporters.
Matemadanda also serves as Zanu PF national political commissar and was at the forefront of attacking Mugabe in his last days in power.
The Zanu PF Youth League deputy secretary Lewis Matutu said the ruling party will not lose sleep over Mugabe’s decision indicating the former President had denied numerous other people who deserved the status.
“That has got nothing to do with us and Mugabe is just an individual. Perhaps in my view, it is because he understands that he barred a lot of deserving heroes to be buried at this shrine.
“Talk of comrade Chinx (Dickson Chingaira) who amongst many other war veterans deserved to be laid to rest here, are lying elsewhere. I hope that the leadership will consider and perhaps rebury that fellow comrade who was working dearly for his country,” said Matutu.
“So, it’s not an issue that the former President says he does not want to be buried here. Neither is there anyone who is willing to see him buried here against his will.”
Mugabe, 95, is currently battling for his life in a Singaporean hospital where he has been admitted since April.