Robert Mugabe will be buried at a hilltop monument reserved exclusively for Zimbabwe’s national heroes, an official said, as the southern African nation began several days of official mourning.

Mugabe died on Friday in Singapore. He was 95. He will be laid to rest in Harare at the National Heroes Acre, set aside for Zimbabweans deemed to have made significant sacrifices for the nation, which emerged from the end of colonial Rhodesia.

“Comrade Mugabe will be buried at the Heroes Acre,” the deputy information minister, Energy Mutodi said. “That is where he deserves to rest.”

Leo Mugabe, a nephew of Robert Mugabe and a family spokesman, said the date of the funeral and other details, including when Mugabe’s body will be flown into Zimbabwe, were not yet finalised. “Arrangements are not in place yet,” he said in a text message.

The plot, which is located on a hilltop, and built with the help of North Korean architects, features a huge bronze statue of three guerrilla fighters.

Mugabe is viewed by many as a national hero, despite decades of rule that left the country in ruins. He was an ex-guerrilla chief who took power in 1980 when Zimbabwe shook off white minority rule, and ruled for decades while economic turmoil and human rights violations eroded its early promise.

The Heroes Acre shrine, outside Harare. Photograph: Rob Cooper/AP

Mugabe was forced to relinquish power by a previously loyal military in November 2017.

Flags flew at half-staff on Saturday, but there were no public activities to mark the death of a man who shaped the once-prosperous country in his own image and created a repressive system that many critics say endures.

Reaction to his death was mixed. The state-run Herald newspaper, which vilified Mugabe when he resigned and when he subsequently voiced support for the opposition, carried glowing tributes.

In a commemorative edition, the newspaper, which often acts as a mouthpiece of the government, carried a montage of his pictures on its front page and glowing reports throughout.

In an editorial, the newspaper praised Mugabe for “his uncompromising stance when it came to the rights of Africans”. “Whatever happened towards the end of his leadership should not be used to rubbish the good things that he did during his life,” the commander of the Zimbabwe defence forces and one of the commanders who led the military campaign to oust Mugabe after years of propping his rule, was quoted as saying in a separate story in the newspaper.

(The Guardian)

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