The mortal remains of Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe have been kept at his birthplace, following a state funeral in the capital city of Harare. His last rites were barely attended by Zimbabweans as most of the seats in the 60,000-capacity stadium were reportedly vacant.
African leaders proclaimed Mugabe as a hero of liberation, and the current Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa, expressing grief over the loss, said “our motherland is in tears”.
The people abstained from the ceremony due to the widespread repression that was prevalent in Robert Mugabe’s later rule.
Zimbabwe’s economy has been badly hit by crisis, with surging inflation and unemployment, and people have taken it as a failure of the former president.
A local of Harare told AFP, “We are happier now that he is gone. Why should I go to his funeral? I don’t have fuel. We don’t want to hear anything about him anymore. He is the cause of our problems.”
People of Zvimba, Mugabe’s rural hometown, will pay tribute to his body on Sunday, according to the local media.
The absence of Zimbabweans in great numbers at the stadium, where Zimbabwe’s founding father Mugabe’s coffin was taken, created an awkward moment for the family and other attendees. Only a few thousand Zimbabweans bothered to attend his funeral.
However, the current and former African leaders were present in good numbers at the funeral, acclaiming Robert Mugabe as a pan-Africanist who served people of the country throughout his life.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was firm in his assertion that Africa’s problems needed African solutions.
Apart from the mourning, a small portion of crowd booed off South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, opposing the xenophobic violence in South Africa over the last month.
After the former president’s death, there had been a dispute between the Mugabe family and the government over his burial. Now, both the sides have agreed that his body will be buried in the National Heroes’ Acre monument in the capital.