BY EVERSON MUSHAVA/MOSES MATENGA
THE late former President Robert Mugabe’s family yesterday rubbished moves by a Zvimba traditional leader to summon former First Lady Grace Mugabe to appear before his traditional court on a charge of “improper” burial of the country’s former strongman.
Mugabe, who was deposed by the military in a coup in November 2017, died a bitter man in September 2019 at a hospital in Singapore.
The period leading to his burial was marred by haggling over his place of interment between his family and the government. The family buried him at his rural home in Zvimba, insisting it was his wish, while the government wanted him buried at the National Heroes Acre, where its centre-piece marque depicts him as the ultimate hero.
Chief Zvimba has summoned Mugabe’s widow Grace to his village court at Murombedzi Growth Point to answer to a charge of burying her husband at his homestead.
“You are facing charges of burying the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe at his homestead. This is unheard of in Chief Zvimba’s area,” summons by Chief Zvimba to Grace dated April 29, 2021 read in part.
This was after a Zanu PF official identified as Tinos Manongovere approached the court demanding that Grace be tried for the “irregular” burial of Mugabe.
Grace is also accused of abandoning Mugabe’s properties which are scattered nationwide.
Chief Zvimba said he wanted Grace to bury the late President in accordance with “our traditions and in Zvimba at a place designated by the family and his late mother”.
“These charges you are facing attract a fine of five cattle and a goat,” Chief Zvimba, who is a brother to the late leader, said.
Chief Zvimba warned that a ruling will be made even if Grace snubs the summons.
Grace was asked to propose a date with appropriate authorities if she was unable to attend the village court next week.
But the Mugabe family spokesperson and nephew to the late feared former ruler, Leo Mugabe, said it was improper to summon Grace since the burial of his uncle was a done and dusted issue.
“No one will force us to change even if they come up with many court cases. They can go to hell,” Mugabe said.
“Our position as a family is that we will not entertain this issue. We buried Mugabe and that’s all. This person who is complaining is not part of the family and we don’t know why he is doing that.
“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,” he said.
He vowed that no one would attend the court session and he cared less about a “default judgment”.
“In any case, what will happen even if the complainant wins the case? It is an exercise in futility because as far as we are concerned, we are done and nobody can force us and we cannot say he was buried in a house when we all know he was buried in a courtyard.”
“Had we gone to the National Heroes Acre he was going to be buried in a proper room they call a mausoleum and was the chief going to summon President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa over that?”
Government has distanced itself from the Mugabe family feud despite accusations that the issue was being pushed by some senior government officials who are keen on having the late nationalist’s body exhumed and buried at the national shrine.
Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana took to micro-blogging site Twitter to say: “Whatever it is, leave us alone.”
A Mugabe family friend, who is also opposition National Patriotic Front spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire, accused the Mnangagwa government of pushing for the exhumation of the remains of the late former President.
“The junta occult comedy around the burial and envisaged exhumation of late President Mugabe continues with Mnangagwa office representative Jeremiah Moyo accompanying a team comprising Borrowdale police, Chief Zvimba’s representative and a messenger of court to Blue Roof to administer summons on Grace accusing her of “improperly” burying the late RGM (Mugabe) in contravention of some dubious chieftainship burial rites claimed by a Zanu PF DCC (district co-ordinating committee) member, Tinos Manongovere,” Mawarire tweeted.