JUST IN | Mugabe's body arrives in Zimbabwe

JUST IN | Mugabe's body arrives in Zimbabwe

Police motorbikes escorted the white Mercedes hearse carrying Mugabe's body from Singapore Casket, a funeral parlour where he had been kept since his death.

The body is heading home for burial in a country bitterly divided by the hero-turned-despot's legacy.

Worldwide journalists have been camped at the Zvimba homestead of Robert Mugabe and more are expected in the country on Wednesday afternoon to witness the arrival of the remains of the late leader who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years.

Mugabe, one of the last "Big Men" of African politics who ruled the southern African nation for 37 years until he was removed by his own army in November 2017, died in a Singapore hospital last Friday.

"It just left now", he said by phone from the plane as it took off, with the noise of the aircraft audible in the background.

If Mugabe is buried in Kutama village, 85 km (50 miles) from Harare, it would be a major rebuke for his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the ruling ZANU-PF party that Mugabe helped to found.

His increasingly tyrannical leadership and economic mismanagement prompted millions to leave the country.

This as the standard in Zimbabwe, although Mugabe's has explained that the former head of state never forgave those who ousted him.

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Yet Harare residents appeared largely unconcerned, with shops remaining open and people going about their daily errands.

Mr Mugabe was Zimbabwe's first leader after the country became independent in 1980.

Conspicuously missing on the list of leaders attending the state funeral are leaders from Europe and the US.

On Thursday and Friday, Mr Mugabe is due to lie in state at Rufaro Stadium, in Mbare township in Harare, where he was sworn in as Zimbabwe's first prime minister after independence from the United Kingdom in 1980.

The decision has fueled speculation that there are ongoing disagreements between government and Mugabe's family after the former Zanu PF leader reportedly told his close associates that he did not want to buried at the national shrine.

He will be buried on Sunday but the location remains unclear.

A relative has said that in line with native Shona customs, traditional chiefs from Zvimba will have a final say on where the former leader will be buried.

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