A Zimbabwe court on Friday sided with traditional chiefs seeking to exhume the remains of ex-president Robert Mugabe from his home village and move them to the capital, going against the family’s wishes.
Mugabe was buried in his rural home village of Kutama, about 90 kilometres (55 miles) west of Harare, in September 2019 after weeks of wrangling over his final resting place.
Mugabe’s wife Grace and other family members had opposed government plans to bury the former leader at the National Heroes Acre in the capital.
But while they eventually got their way, a traditional court in May fined the widow five cows and two goats for improperly burying her husband and called for his exhumation.
Three of Mugabe’s children challenged that order in a magistrate court, which sided with the chiefs on Friday.
“I give powers to those who are permitted by law to exhume the late Robert Mugabe’s remains from Kutama and rebury them at the National Heroes Acre,” magistrate Ruth Moyo ruled at a court in the city of Chinhoyi outside Harare.
“It is the wife of the late (president) who should have approached the magistrate’s court to seek recourse if she felt unsatisfied by the chiefs’ ruling,” she added, speaking in local Shona.
Mugabe family members did not immediately respond to AFP requests for comment.
They have the option of appealing in higher courts.
Mugabe died in a Singapore hospital on September 6, 2019, aged 95, almost two years after a military coup ended his autocratic 37-year rule.
A former guerrilla fighter, he took power after independence from white minority rule in 1980 and was initially hailed as a pan-African liberator.
Charismatic and lauded by the West, Mugabe’s rule became increasingly repressive as he cracked down on his political opponents.
This was combined with a series of disastrous economic policies that caused galloping inflation and drove millions of Zimbabweans abroad.
Mugabe was eventually toppled by his formerly loyal military generals in 2017.
Traditional courts in Zimbabwe have a strong symbolic impact even though they cannot compel the accused.