Former President Robert Mugabe’s burial slated for Sunday has been postponed, family sources told agencies on Tuesday.
A funeral service to be attended by foreign dignitaries will, however, still go ahead as planned on Saturday.
Haggling between the government and Mugabe’s family has delayed an announcement over where he will be laid to rest, with his body expected to arrive in Harare on Wednesday afternoon from Singapore where he died on September 6 at the age of 95.
The reason for the postponement was not immediately clear.
A source familiar with ongoing discussions said:
“There are three issues at present which are still bubbling under, and it could be any one of them. First is where the former president is going to be buried, there’s still no agreement on that.
“Second, September 15 is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s birthday and there’s growing opinion that for all manner of reasons, including of the superstitious kind, burial should not happen on that day.
“The third and final issue is that there is a push from Zanu-PF supporters in the provinces who say owing to travel costs it is better for Mugabe’s body to be taken to all 10 provinces before burial. This is gaining traction and could be the reason why the burial has been pushed back to a date as yet unknown.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa leaves for the United Nations General Assembly later next week and would be desperate to have Mugabe’s burial behind him before his 10-day jamboree in New York.
Mnangagwa’s government wants Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe from independence in 1980 until the November 2017 coup that ousted him, buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare – a national monument to heroes of the liberation war against the white minority Rhodesian regime.
But some of Mugabe’s relatives have pushed back against that plan. They share Mugabe’s bitterness at the way former allies including Mnangagwa conspired to topple him and want him buried in his home village of Kutama, some 85km out of Harare in Mashonaland West province.