By Zvamaida Murwira
President Mnangagwa yesterday said no decision will be made on the funeral arrangements of former President Robert Mugabe against the wishes of his family, and assured former First Lady Grace Mugabe that she has the full support of Government.
He said Government will not renege on the recognition of the former leader as the founding President, Commander-in-chief and torch-bearer of the country.
President Mnangagwa said this at Cde Mugabe’s residence in Borrowdale Brooke where he led Zanu-PF Politburo members in conveying their condolences on the passing on of the country’s founding father.
“Amai (former First Lady Grace Mugabe), you have the full support of the Government under me, those who talk will do so, but as Government there is nothing that we will do against your wishes,” he said.
“On where and how he will be buried, we have not made an announcement until we met Amai so that we share with each other. When my mother died, the former President came to my residence and stayed for quite some time.
“We will try to make all the provisions. I want the family to know that the Zanu-PF-led Government will not forget that we have our leader, it is something that we do as a matter of tradition.
“Let us have a spirit of unity and love. As long as Zanu-PF is in power and as long as I am leading, no one will deviate from that; he will remain our icon and commander, we cannot change this.”
President Mnangagwa said since he took over as Head of State and Government, he had striven to fulfil all the requirements that the former First Family wanted.
“From the day that I assumed office, there was no request that I turned down in terms of providing assistance, even the travelling to Singapore by our leader for treatment,” he said.
President Mnangagwa paid tribute to Cde Mugabe, whom he worked with for a long time.
“I worked with him for more than 54 years, from 1962,” he said. “In 1963 when I was imprisoned he helped to make arrangements that I be released. We have never had problems with him, except what happened that which you all know, but when I returned (back in the country) I said let bygones be bygones, that is the spirit that I have.”
The President castigated some sections of the media for exaggerating the number of Heads of State and Government that had confirmed attendance for the funeral service to be held tomorrow at the National Sports Stadium.
Daily News yesterday listed 49 world leaders which it claimed had confirmed attendance.
“That did not come from us,” said President Mnangagwa. “Traditional leaders from Zvimba District also came to see me and we held talks with them but the media said I bribed them, yet no one had even a single drink from me.”
President Mnangagwa later requested a meeting with close family members led by Amai Mugabe, saying he wanted to exchange views with them.
Family representative, Mr Walter Chidhakwa paid tribute to the Government for the support it rendered during the time of bereavement.
“We have been taught by our founding father to remain united and to forgive each other and help each other in times of trouble,” he said. “Our father played a significant role, it is not the kind of history that Your Excellency, President Mnangagwa would want to be told about, you know it better than me.
“You know the work that he carried out, the circumstances in which you worked under, how difficult it was. So, I say this man, who is our father, deserves a heroes’ welcome that you gave us yesterday. We want to provide a big send off, we cannot fail to do it that which he used to do for others.”
Speaking after a briefing with President Mnangagwa, Mr Chidhakwa said it was agreed that yesterday and today, the body would be at Rufaro Stadium where Zimbabweans would be given an opportunity to bid him farewell.
On Saturday, people will gather at the National Sports Stadium where Heads of State and government from other countries will attend.