Foreign leaders, supporters and ordinary citizens gathered at a national stadium on Saturday to bid farewell to Zimbabwe’s founder Robert Mugabe, after a week of disputes over his burial that have threatened to undermine President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years until he was ousted by his own army in November 2017, died in a Singapore hospital a week ago aged 95.
He will be buried in a mausoleum at the National Heroes Acre shrine in Harare in about 30 days, his nephew said on Friday, contradicting earlier comments that the burial would be on Sunday.
Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former deputy who conspired to topple him, said late on Friday that building the mausoleum would delay the burial of his predecessor.
“Today, let us put aside our differences and come together as we remember the past and look to the future as one proud, independent and free nation,” Mnangagwa wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party have wanted Mugabe buried at a national monument to heroes of the liberation war against white minority rule. But some relatives, expressing bitterness at the way former comrades had ousted Mugabe, had pushed for him to be buried in his home village.
African heads of state, including long-ruling leaders from Equatorial Guinea and Congo, started arriving in Zimbabwe on Thursday night for Mugabe’s funeral.