The drama surrounding the burial of former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has taken another twist after a traditional chief ordered that he should be exhumed and reburied at the National Heroes Acre in the capital. Mugabe’s family has vowed to defy the ruling, saying that the traditional chief has no jurisdiction over such matters.
Chief Zvimba ordered Mugabe’s widow, former First Lady, Grace Mugabe to exhume her husband’s remains at the family homestead in Kutama village, Zvimba and have them buried at the national shrine by July 1, 2021.
The traditional leader, born Stanley Mhondoro, also fined Grace 5 cows and a goat for violating the area’s traditional rites and burial cultural norms. The chief said that if Grace did not pay the fine by July 1, 2021, then the messenger of the magistrate’s court would attach the cows and the goat from the Mugabe family’s farms in Mazowe.
The former First Lady who is currently in Singapore did not attend the traditional court hearing.
However, Mugabe’s nephew and spokesperson for the family, Leo Mugabe has declared that the family will not comply with Chief Zvimba’s ruling. Leo said that the Chief has no jurisdiction over the matter and called his ruling on exhumation and reburial irrelevant.
Leo also slammed the traditional leader for targeting Grace, when she had no say in the burial of her husband. According to Zezuru culture, the burial is determined by the family and the clan. The widow can convey her partner’s wishes but does not have the ultimate authority on the matter.
Speaking to VOA Zimbabwe, Leo said,
“It’s a ruling against a widow and the widow has nothing to do with the burying of her husband … This judgment is irrelevant if you were to ask me because in any case, Chief Zvimba does not preside over cases here.”
“They obviously need a court order in order to exercise the judgment in which case we will oppose that court order in the courts and they must be rest assured the road that they have taken is the wrong route,”
In the aftermath of Chief Zvimba’s initial summons to Grace, Leo told the traditional leader to ” go to hell” and insisted that the family would not entertain the issue.
“No one will force us to change even if they come up with many court cases. They can go to hell,” Mugabe said.
“We don’t know why the chief is summoning Grace on his charge sheet. Grace is not a Mugabe, she is an in-law in the family and the decision to bury him was a Mugabe family decision.”