BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Former first lady Grace Mugabe and ex-Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono reportedly had a massive fallout over the decision to bury the late president Robert Mugabe in Zvimba, it has emerged.
Mugabe, who died in Singapore on September 6, was finally buried at his rural home yesterday after weeks of haggling between his family and the government.
The 95-year-old former ruler’s family insisted that his dying wish was to be buried in Zvimba instead of the Heroes Acre, where the remains of most of his liberation war comrades were interred.
After an initial standoff, the government and Mugabe’s family agreed that he would be buried at the Heroes Acre where a mausoleum was already under construction.
The arrangement, however, changed dramatically last Thursday when Mugabe’s body was taken to Zvimba for burial.
It has since emerged that Grace accused Gono of trying to bribe chiefs from Zvimba to support the government’s plans to bury Mugabe at the Heroes Acre.
At some point, Grace threw out the traditional leaders from Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion in Harare where his body was kept until his burial.
She allegedly accused them of taking bribes from Gono and a tycoon with close links to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Gono refused to comment on the matter, saying he did not want to be involved in the Mugabe family disputes
“How do I get involved in those issues? Please keep me out of it,” he said. “I don’t want to be part of that, leave me out.”
Leo Mugabe, the former president’s family spokesperson, played down the rift, saying the perception that Grace was fighting with the chiefs was due to “miscommunication”.
“It’s an issue of communication,” he said. “The chiefs had not been told of the alternative burial arrangments otherwise they would not have opposed it.
“Speaking to the chiefs, they said their decision was made without knowledge of the alternative.”
Former Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa, who is also Mugabe’s relative, admonished the chiefs for meddling in the family’s affairs.
Gono was instrumental in negotiations between the government and Mugabe’s family that yielded the mausoleum option.
He was also one of the people that negotiated Mugabe’s exit when he was toppled by the army in November 2017.
Meanwhile, Harare mayor Herbert Gomba has revealed that the government at some point feared Mugabe would be buried at the Blue Roof.
Gomba said although they never got a request from Mugabe’s family to carry out the burial, state security agents made several enquiries about the alleged plan.
“We did not have direct communication from the former first lady or the family, but I can tell you we continually had to deal with state agents and government officials who kept asking if we had issued a burial order to allow Mugabe to be buried at Blue Roof,” he said.
“That is a residential area and not a cemetery and town planning is very clear as to where we keep our dead. It was not going to happen at least not under our watch.”
A source said there were some members of the Mugabe family that toyed with the idea of a Blue Roof burial.
“The idea was to then have a museum at the property,” a source said.
“This would allow tourists a chance to visit the home of the former president while allowing the family to make money and fund a trust that they want to set up.”
Mugabe’s family say he died a bitter man because of the way he was removed from power by his lieutenants.