Harare — The body of Zimbabwe's longtime ruler Robert Mugabe is being flown to the capital, Harare, on Wednesday where it will be displayed at historic locations for several days before burial at a location still undecided because of friction between the ex-leader's family and the government.
Mugabe, who died at 95 in a Singapore hospital on Friday, was a guerrilla leader who led the fight to end white-minority rule in what was then Rhodesia, and ruled Zimbabwe from its independence in 1980 until he was deposed in 2017. During his 37-year authoritarian leadership Zimbabwe descended from prosperity to economic crisis marked by hyperinflation, unemployment and a drastic drop in living conditions for its 16 million people.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was Mugabe's closest ally and vice president before ousting him with the military, is expected to meet the plane when it lands in Harare carrying Mugabe's body, his widow Grace and other family members.
The Mugabe family publicly invited all Zimbabweans to go to the Harare airport to welcome the former leader's remains, according to an announcement on state media but so far about 100 gathered at the airport, singing songs praising Mugabe. Elsewhere Harare is bustling as a normal weekday, with vehicles lined up for scarce fuel, vendors selling vegetables and currency dealers selling cash.