Nearly two years after the death of the enigmatic and charismatic Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace has been fined five cows and two goats by a traditional court in the country for the transgression of not burying her husband according to traditional customs.
Mrs. Mugabe was tried in absentia and according to ethnic Shona jurisprudence in the central Zimbabwean town of Murombedzi. According to Africanews, about 15 people, connected to the traditional authority, were involved in looking into the matter. Reporters and others were reportedly not allowed into the hearing.
The charge leveled against Mrs. Mugabe was that she did not adhere to instructions about where her husband was supposed to be buried. Local chief Zvimba reportedly claimed that the former president was supposed to be buried in the same graveyard as Robert Mugabe’s mother, Bona. Zvimba added that this was the will of Mugabe’s family.
The local authority now wants Mrs. Mugabe to have her former husband’s body exhumed and reinterred at Robert’s mother’s birthplace in Kutama. Although Mrs. Mugabe is herself not Zimbabwean or even an ethnic Shona like her departed husband was, she is expected to carry out the fine. She is, however, under no legal compulsion as far as Zimbabwean laws are concerned.
Mugabe who died in 2019 at the age of 95, was “not buried at Grace’s home but at her property and we accepted that as a family,” according to his cousin Dominic Matibiri. It is also thought that the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, would love for the national icon to be buried at the National Hall of Heroes, a mausoleum reserved for those identified with Zimbabwean pride and patriotism.
Mugabe was arguably the founding father of Zimbabwe. Questions were raised as to whether he was a hero or a villain after his death but this question seems to have currency only outside that country.