Zvamaida Murwira and Blessings Chidakwa, Harare Bureau
Government has conferred a special honour to the country’s founding President, Cde Robert Mugabe, by constructing a mausoleum at the National Heroes’ Acre hill top where the former leader will be buried, President Mnangagwa has said.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said Cde Mugabe will only be buried upon the completion the mausoleum, to be built at the apex of the hill that hosts the national shrine.
President Mnangagwa said this at State House last night while addressing journalists soon after meeting Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who is part of several Heads of State and Government that arrived yesterday to pay their condolences.
President Mnangagwa said today’s State funeral service to be held at the National Sports Stadium will proceed as planned.
“We are having service tomorrow (today) at National Sports Stadium,” he said.
“We are building a mausoleum for our founding father at the top of the hill at Heroes’ Acre, (on Sunday) it won’t be finished, so we will only bury him after we have completed the construction of the mausoleum.”
Asked how long it would take to complete the mausoleum, President Mnangagwa said work had already began.
“It is far much easier to ask the builders on its completion,” he said. “If I say it’s going to be finished tomorrow and it is not, you write; ‘President tells a lie’.”
Turning to the discussion he held with President Mbasogo, President Mnangagwa said the Equatorial Guinea leader had visited Cde Mugabe in Singapore, a few days before he passed on.
“He is the last Head of State who visited our late former President Mugabe in Singapore, l think four days before he passed on,” he said. “So, he was conveying to me the discussions he had with our founding father when they met in Singapore on his way from TICAD (the Tokyo International Conference of African Development) Japan.”
A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people.
Before meeting President Mbasogo, President Mnangagwa held a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special envoy Mr Gu Shengzu, who is Vice Chairperson of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Briefing journalists soon after his meeting, Mr Gu said he had been sent by his President to represent him during the funeral wake of Cde Mugabe.
“I am here to represent President Xi Jinping as a special envoy for tomorrow (today)’s activities,” he said. “The former President Mugabe was an old friend of China, he visited China 14 times. He was also a good friend to Chinese people providing support to China on issues concerning our core interests and major concerns.”