BY EVERSON MUSHAVA/ NUNURAI JENA
Former president Robert Mugabe’s family says his spirit is fighting back after “mysterious” deaths and illnesses hit families of some traditional leaders that were pushing for the exhumation of the late strongman’s remains.
The battle to exhume Mugabe’s remains has been raging since early this year when a chief in his rural Zvimba village convicted former first lady Grace Mugabe on of violating local custom by burying the former Zanu PF leader in a courtyard at his Kutama home.
Zimbabwe’s founding leader died in September 2019, two years after he was toppled in a military coup and he was buried in his Zvimba rural home.
His family insisted on burying him at his home instead of having his remains interred at the National Heroes Acre, arguing that he left instructions that his burial must not be presided over by his erstwhile Zanu PF colleagues.
Chief Zvimba resurrected the war over Mugabe’s remains after ordering Grace to ensure that they were exhumed and reburied in Harare.
Mugabe’s relatives said one of the traditional leaders behind the fiasco, Chief Beperere, born Alfred Tome, succumbed to Covid-19 last month.
His son Edward, who was spokesperson for the Zvimba chiefs when they met President Emmerson Mnangagwa in September last year to demand the reburial of Mugabe, was said to be now suffering a “mysterious ailment”.
One of Edward’s sons is also said to be sick. Chiefs Zvimba and Chidziva are also said to be now bed-ridden.
Tinos Manongovere, the headman who took Grace Mugabe to the traditional court demanding Mugabe’s burial, blamed Chief Zvimba’s woes on old age.
“There is nothing amiss about his ill health,” Manongovere said.
“Remember he is advanced in age. At more than 80 years old you can’t expect him to be running up and down like a teenager.”
Dominic Matibiri, a member of Mugabe’s family, said they believed Mugabe’s spirit was avenging.
“The spirit of the departed have a way of settling issues with the living,” Matibiri.
“As Mugabe family, we will not mourn Chief Beperere with others because we feel that he was being punished by the avenging spirit for taking part in the exhumation judgement.
“Chief Beperere was Mugabe’s chief and should have presided over the matter but instead, decided to trick us by taking the matter to Chief Zvimba, a great justice anomaly.”
Mugabe family spokesperson Leo Mugabe said his uncle died a bitter man.
“I can confirm that he died a bitter man,” Leo said.
“Whether he is still bitter, that I don’t know because I have never been to the world of the dead and thus I have not experienced it.”
As the battle over Mugabe’s remains rages in courts, traditional leaders in Zvimba are said to be now pushing for closure in the matter through customary means.
Last week, a traditional leader identified as Headman Chisora is said to have advised Manongovere to arrange for the grave that was set aside for Mugabe at the National Heroes Acre to be filled up with the help of a spirit medium.
The event was supposed to take place last Saturday, but the spirit medium cancelled at the last minute, saying he had a bereavement in Kwekwe.
Leo said he was aware of plans to fill up Mugabe’s grave at the national shrine.
“That one I am aware of and we welcome the move because Mugabe is not going to be buried there,” Leo said.
“This will put to rest all this. I understand they (Chisora and Manongovere) made contact with the Mugabe family, that is why I know it.
“Government should be aware of this, especially the Home Affairs minister.”
“They simply have to fill it up and keep (the mausoleum) for symbolism purposes.”
Kazembe was not picking calls yesterday when this publication sought his comment while Manongovere and Chief Zvimba professed ignorance about the latest developments.