A KUTAMA villager in late former President Robert Mugabe’s Zvimba home has taken former First Lady Grace Mugabe to a traditional court over her decision to bury her husband in his rural mansion’s courtyard.
Enos Monongovere challenged Mugabe’s widow on 29 April and wants her to appear before Chief Zvimba’s traditional court over what he claims was ‘mapini’ (taboo).
Manongovere is demanding that the late former leader’s remains be exhumed and re-buried at a known gravesite for the family in Kutama village.
The letter reads in part, “You are being called to Chief Zvimba’s traditional Court on 20 May, 2021 at Gonzo Guzha Hall, Murombedzi Growth Centre.
“Charges are that you buried your late husband former President Robert Mugabe in his house and according to our culture, this is taboo.
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 Zvimba traditions and in Zvimba at a place designated by the family and his late mother. These charges you are facing attract a fine of five cattle and a goat.”
“You can bring your witnesses but be informed that if you fail to attend the hearing, judgement will be passed in your absence.”
Chief Zvimba wants Mrs. Mugabe to exhume her late husband’s body and rebury it at a gravesite where his mother, Bona, was laid to rest.
Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years before his inglorious exit following a military assisted coup November 2017, died aged 95 in a Singaporean hospital from prostate cancer.
During the period post his exit, a sulking Mugabe was said to have refused to be interred at the National Heroes Acre after his demise.
Attempts by the Emmerson Mnangagwa led administration to have the country’s founding leader interred at the national shrine where a mausoleum was being built for him were in vain as Grace remained adamant on her husband being buried in his rural home.
Mrs. Mugabe was asked to fix a date with appropriate authorities if she won’t attend the village court on next week.
The former first lady and his nephew, Leo Mugabe, were unreachable on their mobile phones.
Leo Mugabe was quoted by an online publication recently as saying he was not aware of any moves by Chief Zvimba to summon him to the village court to face charges of breaking traditional rules and regulations of burying people in his area.
Mugabe, who was toppled in a defacto military coup in 2017, died of cancer in Singapore. The family is believed to have multiple farms, several companies, including a dairy farm.
According to independent economists, the Mugabe family has businesses worth more than US$10 million.
Commenting on the development, outspoken journalist Hopewell Chin’ono called on Zimbabwean authorities to allow Mugabe to “Rest in Peace” and respect the late leader’s wishes.
In a twit, Chin’ono wrote, “Someone is determined to put their hands on Mugabe’s body! This is the first time l side with Grace Mugabe.
“When a man gives instructions to his wife about how he wants to be buried, the living should respect his wishes. Let the old git Rest in Peace. He is gone for goodness sake! Society should resist this attempt to use body yemudhara uyu!”.
If indeed Grace loses the case and Mugabe is reburied elsewhere, this could come as some form of victory to President Mnangagwa who was humiliated by his late predecessor’s family which defied the incumbent’s directives for his burial at the national shrine.
Critics say Mnangagwa has a big handle on the outcome of court decisions, let alone traditional ones run by traditional chiefs who live off government’s benevolent handouts.
The national leader once admitted influencing the courts to grant MDC Alliance top politician Tendai Biti bail