By BREZH MALABA in Harare
FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe looks on during a press conference at his private residence nicknamed “Blue Roof” in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 29, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A COMMUNITY court in Zimbabwe has ordered former First Lady Grace Mugabe to exhume ex-President Robert Mugabe from his rural homestead and re-bury him at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare by 1 July.

Chief Zvimba’s court sat on 20 May 2021. Grace, who had been summoned to appear before the traditional court, did not pitcH. Her relatives have told Zambezi News24 she is receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment in Singapore. 

As part of his ruling, the chief fined Grace five head of cattle and a goat. He warned her that, should she fail to comply, he will direct law enforcement agents to forcibly grab the livestock from the Mugabe family farm in Mazowe, about 40 kilometres north of Harare. The farm and dairy business are part of Mugabe’s crumbling empire.

The bizarre political spectacle has stunned Zimbabweans. Leo Mugabe, the late president’s nephew, has lashed out,  telling Chief Zvimba to “go to hell”. 

The family accuses the traditional leader of being used by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for superstitious and occultic purposes.

Jealousy Mawarire, a politician close to the Mugabe family, says Mnangagwa’s government believes that Mugabe was buried with a mystic sceptre with supernatural powers. The strange belief is that, if they retrieve the all-powerful sceptre, they will manage to revive the country’s troubled economy.

Responding to Chief Zvimba’s ruling, Mawarire said Mnangagwa’s involvement has become obvious. “Despite denials by Nick Mangwana (government spokesperson) that the government of Zimbabwe and Mnangagwa are behind efforts to exhume President Mugabe’s remains, Chief Zvimba has ordered the exhumation and reburial at Heroes’ Acre on 1 July 2021. How can a chief order burial at a Zanu PF shrine without ED’s (Mnangagwa) involvement?”

Interestingly, Chief Zvimba, in his ruling written in the predominant Shona language, ordered Grace to gather all of Mugabe’s personal belongings.

“These belongings must include Mugabe’s clothes and everything else he used while alive, including those belongings which are currently not at the late Robert Mugabe’s house,” said Chief Zvimba in his ruling.

Mugabe died aged 95 in September 2019 in a hospital in Singapore where he was undergoing treatment for advanced cancer. Chief Zvimba, whose area of jurisdiction is located about 100 kilometres west of Harare, dropped a bombshell by serving a summons on Grace to appear before his community court on 20 May 2021.

The chief wrote to Mugabe’s widow on 29 April 2021. The summons, written in the predominant Shona language, read in part: “You are facing charges of burying the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe at his homestead. This is unheard of in Chief Zvimba’s area. At the same, time you are accused of abandoning Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s property which is scattered nationwide.

“All properties of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe are supposed to be kept at his homestead and handled in line with our traditions. I want you to rebury the late president in accordance with our traditions and in Zvimba at a place designated by the family and his late mother. These charges you are facing attract a fine of five cattle and a goat.

”The executor of Mugabe’s estate is his daughter and eldest surviving child, Bona Nyepudzai Mutsahuni.”

It is not yet clear why Chief Zvimba is accusing Grace of abandoning the late leader’s property which he says is “scattered countrywide”. However, the Mugabe family says the traditional leader is desperately hunting for the mystic sceptre.

Mugabe’s burial at his rural home in Zvimba was characterised by epic political drama following a tug of war between his family and the Zanu PF government. The family was adamant that he did not want to be laid to rest at the North Korean-built National Heroes’ Acre but the government disagreed, even pushing ahead with a plan to built a special mausoleum for him at the national shrine. The family eventually prevailed, after much haggling. 

Political analysts say Mnangagwa may have badly miscalculated by targeting Mugabe’s widow. The longtime ruler, who was toppled in a military coup in November 2017 after 37 years in power, is still viewed by many within Zanu PF as a founding father, even though he openly denounced the party leaders before his death. – Zambezi News24