BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Former president Robert Mugabe’s family yesterday said the nation should now just celebrate the life of the former Zanu PF leader and stop mourning him as he lived a long life.
“We must stop mourning and start celebrating his life,” family spokesperson Leo Mugabe (pictured) said of his uncle, who died at the age of 95.
Mugabe, who was declared a national hero at the announcement of his death, will be buried in about 30 days at the National Heroes’ Acre.
A low turn-out characterised the funeral service in Harare yesterday.
Several bays at the giant National Sports Stadium were empty in sharp contrast to the huge turnouts at Rufaro Stadium on Thursday and Friday where there was a stampede to view Mugabe’s body.
Yesterday’s ceremony was attended by several presidents and former leaders from Africa.
“A giant tree of Africa has fallen,” eulogised President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the man he called a mentor and father figure, before their fallout.
He said: “…The bold, steadfast and resolute revolutionary, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe, is no more.”
Mugabe’s widow and former first lady Grace Mugabe, dressed in black with a veil covering her head, did not address the gathering, but has been present at all occasions, accompanied by
The foreign heads of state in attendance included South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial
Guinea. Former presidents who attended included Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Festus Mogae of Botswana and South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma.
Ramaphosa was heckled by the mourners when he took to the podium to deliver his speech.
He apologised for xenophobic attacks where Africans, including Zimbabweans, have been targeted in South Africa.
Ramaphosa described Mugabe as a friend of South Africans who was instrumental in that country’s liberation.
“President Mugabe was a friend of the African National Congress, and the people if South Africa and he stood by us in our darkest hour,” he said.
“He was unwavering in his support for our liberation. Under his leadership, Zimbabwe and especially Zanu PF gave both moral and material support at a time when our leadership was
forced into exile and out people were suffering under the yoke of apartheid.”
Mugabe’s body will be flown to Murombedzi in Zvimba, his rural home, today where he will lie in State. —Additional reporting by VOA