A battle over where former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe should be laid to rest took another unexpected turn on Thursday, with a family spokesman saying that he will be buried at the weekend in his rural hometown of Kutama.
Mugabe, who died at the age of 95 in Singapore on September 6, was both revered for his liberation politics and reviled for his later dictatorial rule in the southern African country.
The Zimbabwean government wanted Mugabe to be buried at the National Heroes Acre, a hilltop shrine in the capital Harare reserved for the elite, but his family pushed for him to be laid to rest in Kutama alongside his mother.
The two sides had eventually settled for a mausoleum at the National Heroes Acre and a postponement of the funeral until October so that the structure could be built.
But family spokesman Leo Mugabe told dpa on Thursday that he had received instructions from the family to go to Kutama - located about 85 kilometres from Harare - to ‘make arrangements for the burial, which is now scheduled for this Saturday.’ He did not provide any further details on what had provoked the sudden change of plans.
Work on the mausoleum in Harare had already started, with contractors clearing land for the construction before the family's announcement.
Analysts have said that Grace Mugabe's desire to protect the fortune accrued by her family during her husband's 37 years in power was a factor in the tensions over the burial.