A traditional court in Zimbabwe has summoned former first lady Grace Mugabe to answer to charges of “inappropriately” burying former president Robert Mugabe.
A chief now wants Mrs Mugabe to exhume the body for reburial at a family grave site where his mother, Bona, was buried.
Mr Mugabe died aged 95 in Singapore in 2019, almost two years after he was toppled in a military coup after ruling Zimbabwe for 37 uninterrupted years.
He was buried at his homestead in Zvimba, a few kilometres from the capital Harare, with his family saying they wanted to respect his deathbed wish not to be buried at a shrine reserved for the heroes of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation war.
He reportedly said he did not want President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to preside over his funeral because of the manner in which they removed him from office.
The government had started building a mausoleum where the country’s first black leader would have been buried before the dramatic falling-out.
Two years after Mr Mugabe was buried, the fight over his remains is still raging, with Chief Zvimba ordering his widow to appear before his traditional court next Thursday.
“You are facing charges of burying the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe at his homestead,” reads the summons from the chief dated April 21, 2021.
“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 two cattle and a goat,” the chief said in his letter.
The chief said if Ms Mugabe fails to attend the hearing they will “proceed with the case and make an appropriate ruling if you don’t attend the village without seeking attention”.
Grace in Singapore
The former first lady is said to be in Singapore.
Dr Mugabe’s family owns several commercial farms.
A diary company that he started with his wife after grabbing some white-owned farms in the early 2000s is said to be struggling for survival.
President Mnangagwa’s government has denied accusations that is behind the push for the exhumation of Mr Mugabe’s remains.
Patrick Zhuwawo, one of Mr Mugabe’s nephews, told a South African television station on Wednesday that the Zimbabwean leader is pushing a political agenda against his predecessor’s family.
“He knows very well that Amai Mugabe is not well, she is out of the country. He knows that she is receiving treatment,” Mr Zhuwawo, an exiled former minister, said.
“He knows very well that she will not be able to attend and yet he sent one of his officers to be the head of the delegation that went to deliver the summons to someone that they know very, very well, will not be available,” he added.