Zimbabwe ex-president Robert Mugabe's family and the government squabbled over his burial yesterday, with the place - and even its date - still unclear after relatives snubbed a plan for him to be entombed at a national monument.
The 95-year-old, who ruled for 37 years until he was ousted in November 2017, died last week in Singapore where he had been receiving medical treatment. His body was returned back to the capital city of Harare on Thursday.
Zimbabweans have been split over the death of a leader once hailed for ending the former British colony Rhodesia of white-minority rule but who later purged his foes in a brutal crackdown.
Mnangagwa said Mugabe will remain "our icon, our hero and our founding father" as long as he remained President.
"If Mugabe were to be buried at Heroes Acre, it would allow Mnangagwa to pontificate over his body and that would legitimise his rise to power", said Mandaza.
They "also observed with shock that the Government of Zimbabwe is attempting to coerce us to accept a program for funeral and burial" that was contrary to Mugabe's wishes, the statement said.
"The chiefs in Zvimba still regard him as a chief and in terms of tradition, they are the ones that determine where is he going to be buried, how is he going to be buried, the procedures that must be followed in his burial".
- Clement Manyathela, EWN reporterThey're saying they've got other plans on where the body will be on Sunday.
Some media reports had earlier during the week linked traditional leaders from Mugabe's Zvimba home as having agreed to a government wish to have Mugabe buried at the national shrine.
Some family members are still bitter over Mugabe's ouster and the role his former ally Mnangagwa played.
Thousands of Zimbabweans walked through Harare's Rufaro Sports Stadium to pay their last respects to the late leader.
At the Mugabe residence in Harare she sat by her husband's coffin and was consoled by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa on Thursday. "We need him to go to Heroes Acre", another mourner, Prisca Mutandi, said.
Mnangagwa made the remarks at the Blue Roof in Harare on Friday.
Grace Mugabe is expected to stay beside the casket the entire time. Mugabe gave many speeches at the site and his first wife, Sally, is buried there next to a gravesite long reserved for the ex-leader.
We emphasize that the attached list could change as more information on attendances is received. It is only fair and necessary to see that we unite to see that he is given a decent burial and a peaceful send off. His body arrived in Zimbabwe from Singapore on Wednesday and was due to lie in state on Thursday.
It has always been taken for granted that Mugabe would be buried at Heroes' Acre monument, a burial place reserved for top officials of Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party who contributed to ending white colonial rule.