A Zimbabwean magistrate in the hometown of Chinhoyi, on Friday ruled that former
President Robert Mugabe’s remains should be exhumed and reburied at the national
heroes’ shrine in the capital city, Harare. The magistrate confirmed a traditional
chief’s ruling in May this year, that had stated Mugabe’s remains be exhumed for
reburial at the national shrine, after accusing the late leader’s wife of breaking local
custom by interring him at his rural home in 2019.
“I give powers to those who are permitted by law to exhume the late
Robert Mugabe’s remains from Kutama and rebury them at the National
Heroes Acre in Harare,” said the ruling in the local Shona language.
Mugabe was buried at his village of Kutama in September 2019, after weeks of
dispute between his family and the current President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s
government over his final resting place. Following the ruling by the traditional chief,
his three children, Bona, Bellarmine Chatunga and Tinotenda Robert, filed an appeal
with a local magistrate’s court, arguing that “Chief Zvimba had erred at law by
making an order that overturned a burial order in respect of the burial of the late
Robert Mugabe, when the chief had no judicial authority to interpret legal acts from
superior legislation to his jurisdiction”. The children had argued that the chief had
made a mistake by “making an order that affects property rights of a party that is not part of the proceedings”. They accused the chief of making a “false finding of
fact, which amounts to an error at law when he found that the late Robert Mugabe
was buried inside a house.”
Further to their accusations, they had also said that the Chief in his ruling had acted
outside his jurisdiction when he found former First Lady Grace Mugabe guilty of
violating tradition by burying her husband at his homestead. Ms Mugabe, who was
said to be indisposed and seeking treatment in Singapore, was tried in absentia.
She was ordered to facilitate the exhumation of Mugabe’s remains for reburial at a
national shrine for luminaries of the country’s 1970s liberation war, and was also
fined five cows and two goats.
The late Mugabe’s family had also claimed his final wish was for President
Emmerson Mnangagwa not to preside over his funeral. Mugabe’s funeral had been
the subject of tensions between his family and Mnangagwa’s government, whose
relations have been sour since the army coup that led to the former president’s fall
The appeal by the late leader’s family as it is now, stands dismissed. Robert
Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s founding father, died of cancer in 2019 aged 95 in Singapore,
where he had been in hospital for several months. Mugabe had ruled Zimbabwe for
37 years from independence until he was ousted in a coup in November 2017.