Sunday Mail Correspondent
A memorial service for the late former President, Cde Mugabe, was secretly held on October 19 by a section of his family, but many of his close relatives, including his sons, did not attend.
The majority of chiefs from the Gushungo clan snubbed the event.
The former president died on September 6 in Singapore and was buried 22 days later at the family rural home in Zvimba, Mashonaland West Province.
Just as the nation was left waiting on where and when the late founding father of Zimbabwe would be interred, there were equally questions on when the memorial service would be held.
However, it has since emerged that the former First Family actually held a memorial mass in Zvimba and distributed Cde Mugabe’s belongings in accordance with traditional custom.
“Yes, we had the memorial service two weeks ago, on October 19, but it was a private family function. Why are you interested in knowing who attended the memorial service? Is there anyone who comes to you asking details of those attending memorials at your own family events?” fumed Mr Walter Chidhakwa, the family spokesperson.
“You have been talking to Leo (Mugabe) all along, why are you coming to Mugabe family holds secret memorial me now?”
Earlier in the week, the former President’s nephew, Mr Leo Mugabe, had told The Sunday Mail that preparations for the memorial were underway.
“There are some preparations going on concerning the memorial for Gushungo. At the moment, preparations and consultations are still at family level and dates of the memorial will be announced in due course. I do not want to jump the gun . . . but like I said before, dates and the programme line-up will be announced in due course,” said Mr Mugabe.
Gushungo was Cde Mugabe’s clan name.
When confronted with details of the recent event, he stuck to his guns.
“There was a ceremony to distribute sekuru’s belongings two weeks ago, and as Catholics, a church service always accompanies such events. But like I said before, there will be a memorial and dates will be announced in due course,” he said.
A source, who elected to remain anonymous owing to the sensitivity of the matter, said the memorial was poorly attended as some family members and chiefs absconded.
Mr Walter Chidhakwa, the source claimed, had to invite school children from the nearby Kutama College to boost the numbers.
The intrigue and feud surrounding the burial of Cde Mugabe – who was initially set to be buried in a mausoleum at the National Heroes Acre – especially between the national hero’s clansmen and Mrs Mugabe has proved to be damaging to family relations.
The ex-First Lady reportedly held out for a burial at the family’s sprawling Blue Roof mansion, but both the chiefs and elders wanted him interred at the National Heroes Acre as the founder of both the struggle and the nation.
As the proposal fell foul of the country’s bylaws and was further compounded by the fact that the family did not hold title to the property, she opted to bury him in Zvimba.
Despite stiff resistance from the chiefs, she dug in.
Consequently, a few chiefs attended the burial.
Chief Zvimba Mr Stanley Mhondoro told The Sunday Mail that he heard about the memorial service through the “grapevine”, and as Zvimba chiefs, they were not officially invited.
“I heard through (the) grapevine that a memorial service for the late former President was held two weeks ago, but we were not officially invited to attend the event.
“I had hoped that I would be invited and was keen to know what was going on there,” he said.
Chiefs from the Gushungo clan of Zvimba are reportedly still maintaining their earlier stance that the remains of the former President need to be exhumed and interred at the National Heroes Acre, a befitting honour for a man of his standing.