World

Zimbabweans bid farewell to Mugabe

By AAP Newswire

Zimbabwe's late longstanding President Robert Mugabe has been given a state funeral held at a sports stadium ahead of his burial.

Dozens of African heads of state and diplomats from around the world were in attendance on Saturday as Mugabe's coffin arrived to the stadium flanked by military officials and relatives, including his wife Grace, who walked along a red carpet to the podium for the tribute speeches.

Mugabe died last week in Singapore and his body was returned to Harare on Wednesday.

Members of the military and civilians marched at the country's largest stadium to the cheers and singing of thousands of Zimbabweans, who observed the ceremony from the stands.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa attended the event along with 11 African heads of state, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta and Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

The body is set to be buried on Sunday at the National Heroes Acre, a graveyard for the country's elite.

The former president, who died at the age of 95 in a Singapore hospital on 6 September, was overthrown in a coup in November 2017 after he fired his then-vice president Mnangagwa amid tensions between him and First Lady Grace over who Mugabe's successor would be.

Mnangagwa was a devout party loyalist who opposed Grace 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.