Zimbabwe: Court orders exhumation of Robert Mugabe remains for reburial

By The East African
On 11 September 2021 at 04:21

A Zimbabwean court on Friday confirmed a traditional chief’s ruling that former President Robert Mugabe’s remains must be exhumed for reburial at a national shrine.

Mugabe’s children had challenged Chief Zvimba’s controversial ruling, arguing he acted outside his jurisdiction when he found former First Lady Grace Mugabe guilty of violating tradition by burying the strongman at his homestead.

Zimbabwe’s founding father died of cancer in 2019 aged 95.

His family claimed his final wish was for President Emmerson Mnangagwa not to preside over his funeral.

The former First Lady was ordered to facilitate the exhumation of the long-serving ruler’s remains for reburial at a national shrine for luminaries of the country’s 1970s liberation war. She was fined five cows and two goats.

Ms Mugabe, who is said to be indisposed and seeking treatment in Singapore, was tried in absentia.

The traditional leader said he was "giving powers to those who are permitted by law to exhume Mugabe’s remains from Kutama and rebury them at the National Heroes Acre in Harare".

But Mugabe’s three children, Bona, Bellarmine Chatunga and Tinotenda Robert, filed an appeal with a local magistrate’s court, arguing that "Chief Zvimba erred at law by making an order that overturns 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 siblings said the chief 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."

The appeal was dismissed by a magistrate in the former ruler’s hometown of Chinhoyi.

Following Mugabe’s death in Singapore in 2019, a standoff ensued between the government and his family over his final resting place, stretching for nearly three weeks.