Tue. Oct 22nd, 2019

Robert Mugabe: African leaders to pay tribute at state funeral service

Former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe is given a state funeral with current and former African leaders paying tribute to a man lauded as a liberation hero but whose 37-year rule was defined by repression and economic crisis.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa will attend the state funeral of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in Harare in Zimbabwe on Saturday. The presidency said in a statement:

“The president’s attendance signifies South Africa’s regard and gratitude for the role played by the late former president Mugabe in his capacity as leader of Zimbabwe’s pre-independence liberation movement and as president of the Republic of Zimbabwe in support of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid.”

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President Cyril Ramaphosa arriving in Harare

Khusela Diko, Spokesperson to the President, confirmed that the president would be accompanied by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, as well as Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula: Minister of Police Bheki Cele; and Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo.

African leaders in attendance

Former President Thabo Mbeki will also be attending the funeral, along with a dozen former and current African leaders. Nigeria’s Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo will be attending the state funeral as well.

On arrival, the Vice President signed the condolence register of the former President. Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo told journalists he visited former President Robert Mugabe in Singapore 4 days before he died.

Others in attendance include Kenyan President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, President of Angola João Lourenço, President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, President Peteŕ Mtharikwa of Malawi, President is Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia, and President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique.

Robert Mugabe’s funeral service is taking place today, watch the live stream here. President Mnangagwa confirmed the burial would only take place once a new site had been built there for the former leader.

Mugabe will be buried in mid-October, at the Heroes Acre in Harare. The exact date has not yet be confirmed, and his body will only be laid to rest once a mausoleum is built. It could take up to 30 days.

Praise for Mugabe’s rule

Former Zimbabwean Minister of Rural Development and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere, told reporters earlier this week that the late Mugabe “would have loved to die in his country, would have loved to be in Zimbabwe but as it were.”

“Despite certain misgivings, within certain quarters about his so-called mistakes […] the government’s position is clear,” Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo told AFP. “The late President Mugabe is an icon.”

“Things were much better under Comrade Mugabe, prices of basics were lower,” said Daydream Goba, 27, using an affectionate term for Mugabe. “Now, we can barely manage.”

Additional reporting by AFP.

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