Mugabe family snubs Mnangagwa request for late leader’s war artefacts

HARARE – Late former President Robert Mugabe’s artefacts are not part of the fascinating array of Zimbabwe liberation heroes’ war relics currently on display at the much-hyped Museum of African Liberation in Harare amid signs the late leader’s family could be deliberately keeping the vestiges from a project so passionately spearheaded by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

This emerged Wednesday during a media tour of the multi-million dollar pan African venture still under construction on the slopes of a mountain just adjacent to the National Heroes Acre.

The Museum of African Liberation is one of the country’s most ambitious projects run in collaboration with emerging pan-African think tank, Institute of African Knowledge (INSTAK).

On display are late former Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s famous animal skin hat, walking stick, personal rifle, diplomatic passport, and tape recorder.

Also on display are late former Vice President Simon Muzenda’s hacksaw, walking stick and half-moon, among other artefacts.

Late ZANLA commander Josiah Tongogara’s personal pistol and military fatigue are also on display as does Leopold Takawira’s trunk, radio set, rattler and rosary.

But what is conspicuously missing are artefacts belonging to Mugabe, a man credited for steering the country’s freedom pursuit to its final day of white colonial rule and becoming the nation’s founding leader then.

Mnangagwa called on families to donate artefacts of liberation war heroes for display at the museum when he laid the foundation stone for the project.

Museum of African Liberation CEO Kwame Muzawazi tried to play down sentiments Mugabe’s family could have ignored Mnangagwa,

He said the museum waits for families of departed heroes to voluntarily surrender the relics as a means of preserving the war luminaries’ history and national heritage.

“Tongogara died almost 40 years ago, Nkomo died nearly 20 years ago, Muzenda died almost 20 years ago. Mugabe only died some four years ago,” Muzawazi told ZimLive.

“These artefacts are a product of estate distribution and some of these things take time; we can’t compare Tongogara who died 43 years ago and Mugabe who died four years ago.”

Mugabe, ousted November 2017 in a shock military coup in place of his former deputy and incumbent president, took his bitterness right to his grave with a firm declaration he will not be interred at the National Heroes Acre, the much-esteemed heritage cemetery the late leader so dearly cherished and consistently presided over funerals of his many liberation war contemporaries.

Subsequent attempts to retrieve his remains from a village grave in rural Zvimba to the national shrine where a mausoleum was being constructed in his honour by Mnangagwa have been met with spirited resistance from his surviving family members.

Muzawazi denied Mugabe’s family was resisting requests to donate the late leader’s war relics.

“No resistance registered whatsoever, but judicially, there is an ongoing process called estate management and distribution which happens when one dies to the extent that sometimes no one is allowed to touch their belongings until such a time the administrator of the estate has made a declaration.

“In the case of Mugabe’s death, the dust is still to settle because it happened relatively recently,” he said.

Liberation war artefacts are however not just the preserve of a hero’s family to provide as contemporaries can still do the same.

The US$40 million dollar Museum of African Liberation, upon completion, is set to have pavilions of nearly all African countries keen to rewrite and preserve their liberation war historical narratives.

Construction is being co-founded by nearly all African countries.

The work is now 12 percent complete, according to authorities, having started less than a year ago when Mnangagwa laid the foundation stone.

The museum is one project in an ambitious US$400 million venture set to incorporate a hotel, animal park, amusement park, shopping mall and heritage village on a 100 hectare expanse of Harare land.

The media tour comprising Harare based editors and senior journalists from different publications in the country was organised by the information ministry represented during the tour by deputy minister Kindness Paradza in collaboration with the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef).

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