BY MOSES MATENGA
THE fight over the remains of Zimbabwe’s first post-independence leader Robert Mugabe took a bizarre twist yesterday after Chief Zvimba, born Stanley Wurayayi Mhondoro, ordered their exhumation for reburial at the national shrine on July 1, igniting rage from the family and confounding critics who said the country’s leadership was neck deep into occultism.
The judgment by the traditional court was made on Thursday last week, but was delivered at Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion in Borrowdale, Harare, yesterday morning by one Elvis Hundere.
Grace is reportedly out of the country and is said to be admitted at a hospital in Singapore, the same country where her husband died a bitter man in September 2019 after being toppled from office.
Chief Zvimba found the former First Lady guilty of “improperly” leading the burial of Mugabe’s body at his Kutama homestead despite claiming to NewsDay that he was unaware of the bizarre case or the summons sent to Grace.
“I give powers to those empowered at law to exhume the body of the late Robert Mugabe from Kutama and rebury him at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare at a place shown by his father Chief Chidziva as per our culture,” read the chief’s controversial verdict.
“The father of the deceased, who is Chief Chidziva, and the mother of the deceased, who is Chief Gutu, have all agreed that he be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre,” the judgment further stated.
Grace was fined five heads of cattle and a goat.
“It was proven that you led the process until the burial, and if it was not you, it was not going to be allowed to have Mugabe buried at home.”
The Mugabe family has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of pushing for the exhumation for juju purposes to strengthen his grip on the southern African country.
Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao sensationally claimed on South African broadcaster, Sabc, that the former strongman’s ex-right-hand man believed that Mugabe was buried with a mystical sceptre that would give him commanding authority as a leader.
Zhuwao alleged that Mnangagwa told him in person that he believed that there were 16 traditional leaders who would effectively anoint a person that would effectively govern Zimbabwe and he believed that Mugabe had a royal sceptre.
In September last year, Mnangagwa reportedly chaired a meeting at State House attended by senior government officials and representatives of the Zvimba clan.
At the meeting, the Zvimba clan spokesperson Edward Tome reportedly declared that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the manner in which Mugabe was buried, which he said was haunting the clan and accused Grace of leading the “improper burial”.
Dominic Matibiri, who described himself as son to the late Mugabe, said they were blocked from Chief Zvimba’s traditional court when they went to check why Grace had been summoned.
“How come the chief is charging Grace in the matter? The late former President was not buried at the Marufu homestead, he was buried at his homestead,” he charged.
“We followed his (Mugabe’s) wishes to say he should be buried (at his homestead) and not anywhere else. I don’t know why we are being blocked from the hearing when our mother was on trial for following Mugabe’s instructions. I don’t understand why the hearing only had chiefs in attendance. How does that happen?”
Chief Zvimba also found Grace guilty of letting Mugabe’s property remain uncollected across the country, including that at State Houses in Harare, Bulawayo and Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe House in Harare, and at Munhumutapa offices in the capital.
He ordered that Grace should ensure that Mugabe’s property is collected from all over the country before July 1 this year.
Chief Zvimba added that if Grace failed to comply, he would take the matter to the Messenger of Court in Chinhoyi and have the “property” brought to the Mugabe homestead in Kutama.
“I will also give powers to the Chinhoyi Magistrates’ Court messenger to take cattle from Gushungo Dairies in Mazowe and Gushungo Farm in Mazowe,” the judgment said.
When NewsDay contacted Chief Zvimba on his mobile phone yesterday, he initially confirmed that he was the one speaking, but later said the chief “had left his phone on the charger”.
Mugabe family spokesperson and nephew to the late former President, Leo Mugabe, rubbished the judgment saying it was suspicious and was the “work of a bigger hand”.
“It does not matter, but they do not have jurisdiction over Kutama issues because we have our own chief there. There is Chief Beperere and Headman Chisora, and we don’t know where they are coming in,” Leo said.
“I read a story that they had a meeting with the government, where they discussed this issue. It is now clear this was predetermined and the complainant in the matter was just used to give face to an issue agreed in that meeting with President Mnangagwa.
“The family was not represented in that meeting. We had nothing to do with it and true to the President’s words in that meeting, there is now a backlash because the President asked that question.”
Mugabe died a bitter man in September 2019 following his ouster by the military at the instigation of his long-time ally Mnangagwa.
Government wanted him to be interred at the National Heroes’ Acre, but the family stood its ground saying the veteran leader reportedly told them that he wanted to be buried at his rural home without his tormentors pontificating at his burial.
Writing in NewsDay yesterday, development specialist Tapiwa Gomo bemoaned occultism at the heart of Zimbabwe’s leadership and politics.
“There is strong sense of occultism that is masked as culture, religion and tradition couched in the belief that whatever went or will go wrong from abuse of power can be countered by surrounding leadership with spiritual people, relics or sceptres,” he said.
“We recently witnessed some prophets receiving government appointments and just when we thought that was enough, Grace Mugabe is fined for improper burial of her husband amid rumours of a possible reburial which some have linked to a supposed existence of a sceptre.”