Fresh controversy has erupted over the final resting place of the late Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, marked by rumours of witchcraft and the hunt to find a sacred sceptre.
Nearly two years after her husband’s burial at his family homestead, Grace Mugabe is facing demands to exhume his body so it can be moved to a new site. She has been ordered to appear before a traditional court hearing this week, according to a summons made public by her family. If she fails to attend, the documents warned “they will proceed with the case” in her absence.
Mugabe, who died aged 95 in September 2019, gave orders that he should be buried at the village where he grew up, an hour outside the capital, Harare, snubbing plans by President Mnangagwa for him to be laid to rest at a national monument.
It is believed that a mystic sceptre was buried with the former Zimbabwean leader
He also insisted that Grace, his second wife, stayed with his remains until their safe burial, amid fears they would be used “for rituals and witchcraft” by senior figures in the Zanu-PF party.
Patrick Zhuwawo, Mugabe’s nephew, described the summons as a “desperate bid” by party figures to gain access to the remains in their quest for a mystic sceptre, known as tsvimbo yaMambo, which they believed was buried with him.
Economic chaos, shortages of food and cash and a general election in 2023 are causing rising panic among Zimbabwe’s leadership and a growing reliance on superstition, Zhuwawo said.
“President Mugabe was a Catholic and did not believe in the occult unlike other members of the party” he said. “There is an obsession with this sceptre that they believe conferred on Robert Mugabe special powers. It was always talked about but I don’t believe it ever existed and certainly was not buried with him.”
Mugabe was eventually interred in a steel coffin and his grave filled with concrete, on the orders of his family, making it impossible to gain access without heavy machinery. Grace Mugabe, 55, is receiving medical treatment according to her family, and will not be attending this week’s hearing.