Zimbabwe holds state funeral for late former President Mugabe

The body of Zimbabwe's founder and longtime ruler Robert Mugabe is brought to the national sports stadium for a state funeral in Harare, Zimbabwe, September 14, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Thousands of mourners, including national leaders, envoys and special representatives of many countries, sang the praises of Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the late founding president of Zimbabwe, during his official funeral ceremony at the country's national stadium in the capital Harare on Saturday.

The national stadium was solemn and the national flags were lowered to half-staff. Mugabe's coffin, covered with the national flag of Zimbabwe was escorted to the site by ceremonial soldiers. The coffin was laid in front of the podium, surrounded by flowers while locals paid tribute to their late leader in a traditional way.

Gu Shengzu, special envoy of President Xi Jinping and also the vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), attended the funeral at invitation.

On behalf of President Xi and in the name of the Chinese government and people, Gu expressed his deep condolences to the country and his sincere sympathy to the Zimbabwean people, Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa and Mugabe's relatives. In addition, over ten current national leaders including the President of South Africa, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Zambia, Uhuru Kenyatta and the President of Namibia as well as some former national leaders attended the funeral.

During his speech at the funeral, Mnangagwa pointed out that Mugabe's death is a great loss to Zimbabwe and the whole Africa. He added that the Zimbabwean government and people will carry on his legacy and make efforts for the development of the country.

"As we say our goodbyes to our late, great national hero and the Son of the Continent, Zimbabwe shall always stand with Africa and for what is right. This is our tribute to our great liberator, founding father, teacher and empowerer - the late Comrade Gabriel Mugabe," said Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe.

National leaders of South Africa, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea and envoys of Cuba, Russia and other countries also delivered speeches, speaking highly of the significant contributions made by Mugabe to Zimbabwe and the national liberation undertaking in the whole of Africa. They also expressed their support for African integration and their good wishes for the development of Zimbabwe's future development.

Then, led by President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, all the guests stood in silence in front of Mugabe's body and bowed to pay tribute.

Mnangagwa said on Friday that after negotiation between the government and Mugabe's relatives, Mugabe will be buried in an exclusive mausoleum at the national hero's tomb on the outskirts of Harare. At present, the tomb is still under construction. Before its completion, Mugabe's body will not be buried. However, Mnangagwa has not revealed the expected completion date of the mausoleum.

Mugabe, died of illness in Singapore on September 6 at the age of 95. The Zimbabwean government gave him the title of "national hero" on the same day and declared a period of national mourning until the day of his funeral. On Wednesday, Mugabe's body was sent back to Harare. From Thursday to Friday, Mugabe's body was laid at the Rufaro stadium on the outskirts of Harare for the public to pay their respects.

(Source: Reuters) 

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