Harare - The body of former Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, who died in Singapore last Friday aged 95, arrived in Zimbabwe on Wednesday to a tumultuous welcome by thousands of people at the airport named after him in Harare.
President Emerson Mnangagwa, who was among the crowd at the airport together with a number of cabinet ministers and military commanders, described the late African revolutionary as an icon of the liberation struggle.
From the airport, the body was taken to One Commando Regiment army barracks where the State parlour is located and Mnangagwa led mourners in a prayer.
“We have gathered here to welcome our founding father of the nation, independent Zimbabwe,” said Mnangagwa.
“Our revolutionary commander during our armed liberation struggle, an icon of pan-Africanism, the man that created our nation, the man that led us to this day has left us.
President Mnangagwa appealed for peace and calm as the nation mourned the national hero and prepares for his burial on Sunday.
“May I take this opportunity to say to the great people of Zimbabwe, on the day we shall lay him to rest on Sunday, I appeal to you in your hundreds, thousands and millions to show your love to our great leader who has left us,” he said.
“Today as we leave here, our icon and commander will first pass through One Commando where the military will say their prayer and the body will proceed to the residence of our former President – the Blue Roof – today. Thereafter the programme will be announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.
“May I, therefore, appeal to you all to be peaceful and to be loving, united, Zimbabwe is ours together. We are one people and one nation.”
Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport was a hive of activity from early morning as people arrived to witness the arrival of Mugabe’s body, which touched down at 3:35pm aboard a chartered flight.
The body was accompanied by his widow, former First Lady Grace Mugabe, Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who together with other senior Government and Zanu-PF officials who had flown to Singapore to help bring the body to Harare.
The Presidential Guard Brigade mounted a military parade in honour of the former president.
Service chiefs led the body from the plane to the podium.
Several Zanu-PF supporters could be seen ululating, waving fists and punching the air, reminiscent of what Mugabe used to do.
After a brief ceremony at the airport, the body was taken to One Commando Regiment where another devotion was conducted.
Thereafter, the body was taken Cde Mugabe’s Blue Roof residence in Borrowdale where it was expected to lie in State.
Hundreds of mourners including Cabinet Ministers, senior Government officials, Zanu-PF supporters and various church members gathered at the mansion to pay their condolences.
Roman Catholic priest, Father Kennedy Muguti, who was with Cde Mugabe in Singapore, narrated the late hero’s last days.
He said although Mugabe was ill, he still looked up to God.
Father Muguti said Mugabe kept his faith up to the end and died peacefully. - The Herald.