BANGKOK – Zimbabwe’s vice president Kembo Mohadi went Tuesday to retrieve the body of the African country’s late longtime President Robert Mugabe, who last week died in Singapore.
After becoming a leading figure in the liberation of his country from British colonial rule in the 1960s and 1970s, Mugabe monopolized power in the South African nation for almost four decades, ruling with an iron fist.
The body will be transported to Harare on Wednesday on a direct flight.
Adam Molai, the husband of Mugabe’s niece Sandra, told media on Tuesday that Mugabe’s body will depart at 8 am local time.
On Sunday, Molai told reporters that a local Catholic priest conducted a mass for the former leader at a funeral home in Singapore’s city state.
Mohadi flew to Singapore leading a delegation sent to repatriate the corpse of Mugabe, who died at the age of 95 in a Singapore hospital Friday.
Mugabe will be received in Zimbabwe by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, relatives and officials at the airport of capital Harare.
The body is scheduled to be buried on Sunday at the National Heroes Acre, a graveyard for the country’s elite.
The country will honor Mugabe, who held power in Zimbabwe for 37 years, with a state funeral.
The former president was overthrown in a coup in November 2017 after he fired his then-vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa amid tensions between Mnangagwa and the first lady regarding who Mugabe’s successor would be.
Mnangagwa was a devout party loyalist who opposed Grace Mugabe and feared she was positioning herself to take over from the ailing leader upon his death.
In an unprecedented gesture of dissent, the army warned Mugabe of consequences if he did not halt the purges in the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Mugabe did not relinquish power until 21 November, when his ouster was confirmed by a successful no-confidence motion tabled by his own party.
In that week of uncertainty, Zimbabweans took to the streets to protest for a democratic future.
Despite his reputation as a brutal dictator who freed his country and later turned it into his own personal fiefdom, Mugabe is still revered as an iconic fighter for freedom in some African nations.