Former-President of Zimbabwe Buried With Controversial Legacy

Former-President Robert Mugabe at the 12th African Union Summit in 2009. (Wikimedia Commons)

Former-President Robert Mugabe at the 12th African Union Summit in 2009. (Wikimedia Commons)

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s former-president, was buried on September 28 in a small ceremony in the village where he was born, Kutama, Zvimba. Mugabe died on September 6 in Singapore after a long fight with what was later revealed to be cancer.

For three weeks, disputes unfolded over the final resting place of the former-president. Mugabe made his wishes clear that he did not want to be buried in the capital city, Harare, because he had been “ridiculed” by the people in a 2017 coup that saw him lose power to long-time ally Emmerson Mnangagwa after a 37-year long presidency. 

Government officials wanted Mugabe to be buried at the National Heroes Acre, where a special mausoleum was being built until the family suddenly revoked their approval and insisted that he be buried with his late second wife, Grace, in Kutama. Grace’s sister insisted that no government officials could attend the funeral, which she could not have done had the funeral taken place in Harare. 

Mugabe came into power in 1980 as Zimbabwe’s liberator from colonial forces and the first president of Zimbabwe. His controversial rule began with efforts to improve the economy, infrastructure, and education system. However, the promises of freedom and democracy were slowly replaced with widespread corruption and mismanagement, leading to a collapsed economy. He was also accused of election rigging, human rights abuses, and using death squads to squash the opposition. His legacy as a liberator and father of Zimbabwe is greatly tarnished by shaky national wellbeing over the past years.

Despite the controversies surrounding Mugabe in life and even in death, Mnangagwa said in announcing the death on Twitter that “Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”