The family of former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has rejected an order from a traditional court for the exhumation of his remains.
A traditional chief has ordered the exhumation of Robert Mugabe’s remains and their reburial at the national heroes’ shrine in Harare after accusing the late leader’s wife of breaking local custom by interring him at his rural home in 2019.
Mugabe, who was removed in a coup that brought Emmerson Mnangagwa to power in November 2017, was buried in the courtyard of his home at his village of Kutama after weeks of dispute with President Mnangagwa’s government over his final resting place.
A traditional chief in the Zvimba district, which includes Kutama, said he had received a complaint from a Mugabe clan member over the manner of his burial.
Chief Stanly Wurayayi Mhondoro has issued a ruling that found Grace Mugabe guilty of breaking traditional norms by burying her husband in his home.
In his ruling, the chief said the late Mugabe “shall be exhumed and reburied at the National Heroes Acre in Harare within 30 days or before the 1st of June 2021”.
“You are also ordered to gather clothes and all his belongings and surrender them on or before the 1st of July,” the ruling added.
Grace Mugabe, who did not attend the hearing, was fined five cows and a goat. The former first lady was also ordered to provide compensation to the workers who would be tasked with exhuming and reburying the remains of her husband.
But the late President’s nephew Leo Mugabe who is also spokesman for the family, has rejected the ruling.
“He (chief) has no jurisdiction over Kutama. And even if the correct chief had made that ruling we would have appealed to the court,” Leo Mugabe told Reuters news agency.
Chiefs in Zimbabwe have jurisdiction over their local subjects but it is rare for them to order families to exhume bodies for reburial.
The chief’s order will likely rekindle a row over Mugabe’s final resting place.
Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, died on September 6, 2019, at the age of 95.