THE family of the late former President Robert Mugabe, gripped by superstition, has gone out of its way to acquire a state-of-the-art tamper-proof casket to ensure that Zanu-PF bigwigs do not steal his body parts for rituals.
Mugabe, who died in Singapore from advanced cancer on 6th September, was buried on Saturday at his rural Zvimba home.
His grave was sited in the middle of the sprawling yard, between the houses of his widow Grace Mugabe on one side and another house that belonged to his late wife Sally Mugabe.
“His grave, which was built by a Chinese company, was covered by six three-tonne concrete slabs, lockers and keys as his family is wary that rivals in the ruling Zanu-PF might want to steal his body parts for rituals.
“There is also fear that treasure hunters might target his coffin which was said to be gold-plated. The grave was also secured by toughened locks, iron screens, and is lined by stainless steel plates and reinforced steel. We have never seen anything like this,” a family member told media on Saturday after the burial, which was largely a private affair.
The revelations came as Mugabe’s only surviving sibling, Dr Regina Gata, praised Grace Mugabe for not betraying her husband even in death.
“She stood by him even after his death,” Gata said. “She defended his body so that nobody could defile it. There were some who wanted to carry out traditional rites but we stood up and said no to the nonsense.”
Grace insisted that Mugabe’s remains be kept at the family home, the Blue Roof mansion in Borrowdale Brooke, instead of at a mortuary as fear abound that superstitious members of the ruling party would pounce on the corpse.
The Mugabe family also refused to let the body lie in state at the One Commando barracks as per norm, allowing only an hour of prayer at the military facility and with close family members present.
During the State funeral service held at the National Sports Stadium and the body viewing events two days prior, Grace Mugabe and other family members also kept their eyes trained on the casket and never allowed it to slip out of their attention.
Leo Mugabe, who acted as the family spokesperson during the bereavement period, confirmed the family was gripped by fears that Mugabe’s body parts could be scavenged for rituals.
“Yes, those fears were always going to be present. You know, with rituals and stuff like that, people really were after his body parts. We had to change the casket to get a tamper-proof one.
“The idea came from Mugabe himself when he was in hospital in Singapore. He told his wife, ‘When I die, do not leave my body… People want to use my body.’ We knew that spiritually, he knew something,” Leo said ahead of Mugabe’s burial, speaking to local and international media.
The DailyNews reports that a family member of the Mugabes said there was belief among some Zanu-PF leaders that Mugabe’s body parts could enhance longevity and staying power in politics.
Things took a head when Grace Mugabe took a decision to bury her husband in Zvimba, even as the Government was already constructing a mausoleum for him at the National Heroes’ Acre. Government had said it had reached an agreeement with the family that burial would take place inside the mausoleum “after a month.”
But in dramatic fashion, Grace made the decision to take the burial to Kutama during the week that President Mnangagwa was away in New York for the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said “all patriotic Zimbabweans were angry” that the Mugabe family had turned down heroes’ acre burial.
War veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa, who had running battles with Mugabe during his last year in power as war veterans fought another faction for the succession of the long-time leader, had no kind words for Mugabe even in his death.
Said Mutsvangwa: “I bet that the Unknown Soldier at the National Heroes Acre would have hounded the life-long impostor. In the other world, I believe they can distinguish the true from the fake with faultless clarity.
“What if the British conferred Royal Knighthood of ‘Sir’ Robert Mugabe was his true self, as opposed to ‘Comrade’ Robert Mugabbe of Chimurenga II?
“In Shona, we say rina manyanga hariputirwe (the truth will out). The title ‘Sir’ has prevailed over ‘Comrade’ for Robert Mugabe. May the British, American, Rhodesian intelligence records please now come to the aid of clarity.
“Bob knew himself better, so did his overarching Dr Stop It, the second spouse even in her clinical madness,” Mutsvangwa reacted angrily.
He continued: “The dynastic usurper Saviour Kasukuwere was all privy to the musings of the core of the two Mugabes. All the while, ‘Gregory Rasputin’ Jonathan Moyo and another angled for a clan-totem inheritance of Zanu-PF, the revolutionary party,” Mutsvangwa fumed.
Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao were accused of fronting Grace Mugabe to take over power from an ailing Mugabe in the last years of his days in power.
When it looked certain that Grace was set for nomination to the presidium at the December 2017 party congress, and with Mnangagwa fired from the party, the army generals moved in and put Mugabe and his wife under house arrest on 14 November.
A few days later, Mugabe resigned under pressure of impeachment as both the opposition MDC and his own esterwhile comrades in Zanu-PF were moving a motion to impeach him.
Grace Mugabe was subsequently fired from the Zanu-PF women’s league and the former First Family spent the last two years depending on government benevolence for Mugabe’s medical bills.