Mugabe's children appeal ruling to exhume remains of former leader

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The children of former Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe have appealed a ruling by a traditional chief ordering the exhumation of the remains of the former leader, arguing the traditional leader has no jurisdiction on the matter.

In May, Chief Zvimba gave a ruling ordering the body of Mugabe be exhumed and be buried at the National Heroes Acre in the capital Harare.

A copy of the ruling in the local Shona language stated, “I give powers to those who are permitted by law to exhume the late Robert Mugabe’s remains from Kutama and rebury them at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.”

Mugabe, who died in 2019, had refused to be buried at the National Heroes Acres in Harare over fears that some individuals especially his political opponents might steal his remains and use them in traditional rituals.

Chief Zvimba accused Mugabe’s widow, Grace of breaking local customs by burying her husband in a manner deemed inappropriate in the courtyard of their rural home in Kutama, Zvimba district.

The tribunal court later ordered Grace Mugabe to give away five cows and two goats for having buried her husband in such a manner.

Mugabe’s three children, Tinotenda Robert Jr, Bellarmine Chatunga and Bona appealed with the magistrate court in Chinhoyi stating that the chief had no judicial jurisdiction to interpret legal act from a superior authority.

Mugabe, who died in 2019, had refused to be buried at the National Heroes Acres in Harare over fears that some individuals especially his political opponents might steal his remains and use them in traditional rituals.

Some members of Mugabe’s family accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa of orchestrating the exhumation.

Chief Zvimba who is in charge of Mugabe’s rural area, Kutama, said he had received numerous complaints from the clan members about the manner in which Mugabe was buried.

Mugabe’s family through their spokesperson, Leo Mugabe, had earlier on rejected the ruling claiming that chief Zvimba lacks jurisdiction over Kutama and more so on the matter.

Local reports allege the traditional chiefs do have the final saying on many local matters but this is the first time a chief has given a judgment on burial rights.