Singapore—The body of Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, who died in Singapore on Friday, September 6, is expected to be flown back home on Wednesday, September 11, at 9:00 pm local time.
Zimbabwean government officials and close relatives of the deceased African strongman arrived in Singapore on Monday.
Mr Mugabe had been travelling to Singapore for medical treatment since April this year. He died in Gleneagles Hospital, with the cause of his death remaining undisclosed.
According to the former president’s nephew, Leo Mugabe, the president’s remains will be brought directly to his home town of Zvimba, which is around 90 kilometers west of Harare, the country’s capital.
On Thursday and Friday, the body will be lying in state for the people to pay their respects, at the Rufaro Stadium in Mbare township in Harare. This is the venue where the former President took his oath of office, during the handover from Ian Smith, the last Prime Minister of Rhodesia, in 1980.
The venue for his burial site is still uncertain, with his family and the government of current president Emmerson Mnangagwa in a deadlock over whether he should be buried at a shrine for liberation heroes in Harare, or at his property north-west of the city.
Mr Leo Mugabe said that the traditional chiefs from Zvimba will make the final decision over where he will be buried, according to native Shona customs.
While some hail the former President as a great liberator, others have conflicted sentiments over his legacy.
Mr Mugabe was Zimbabwe’s first president after the country attained independence, and is seen as having played a vital role in removing the rule of the white minority in what used to be Rhodesia, a British colony.
Zimbabwean academic and independent analyst Austin Chakaodza told Agence France-Presse. “Mugabe leaves a mixed legacy.
He was a liberator of this country who became its destroyer in his later years due to his policies.
He put in place policies that made Zimbabwe a laughing stock of the world. If he had left in his heyday, he would have died a great statesman.”
Mr Mugabe had gone to Singapore for medical treatment for a number of years, especially with the collapse of the public health system in his own country.
He ruled Zimbabwe with what many have called an iron fist from 1980 through 2017, when he was forced out of power by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had the support of the country’s military.
Mr Mugabe’s health started to decline after being ousted from power in November 2017.
World leaders have made statements on Mr Mugabe’s passing.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, ”Throughout his life, he firmly defended the sovereignty of his country, opposed foreign interference, and actively promoted China-Zimbabwe and China-Africa friendship and cooperation.”
And according to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, “under President Mugabe’s leadership, Zimbabwe’s sustained and valiant struggle against colonialism inspired our own struggle against apartheid and built in us the hope that one day South Africa, too, would be free”. -/TISG
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