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Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

 

Six months on from Cyclone Idai, survivors fear “dying from hunger”

Thousands of families are suffering severe food shortages six months after Cyclone Idai tore through central Mozambique, says Save the Children. The agency has spoken to several survivors, who are still living hand to mouth following the destruction of their homes and livelihoods.

Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique on 14 March, killing 603 people and injuring 1,641i. The country was struck by another devastating cyclone, Kenneth, on 25 April and was then hit by drought.

The combined crises have destroyed crops, seeds and devastated people’s means of living, pushing children and their families to and over the edge of hunger. An estimated 3,000 sq. km of land were flooded in Cyclone Idai alone, with over 715,000 hectares of crop fields under water and widespread damage to key infrastructure. Mud and sand still covers large swathes of land, making it impossible to farm, and there is a severe lack of seeds for the next, critical harvest. At least 433,056 households have had their land and crops partially or totally destroyedii.

As a result, nearly 2 million people in Mozambique are expected to be severely food insecure in the coming months, more than twice the number in the same time last yeariii. The lack of food has serious health implications, with an estimated 67,500 children are already suffering from acute malnutrition and need treatmentiv.

Save the Children is warning that unless families in the hard-hit areas receive support, more cyclone-children will struggle to survive. Children are at particular risk of exploitation, with many boys and girls still out of school, girls at risk of violence during their long walks to collect water, and boys at risk of being forced into workv.

Save the Children is calling on international donors to commit an additional US $160 million vi to ensure families receive adequate food and children are protected.

Grandmother Maria (40) and her daughter-in-law Regina (35) lost their homes and crops in Cyclone Idai, and are now jointly caring for orphaned twin babies, Luisa and Franque. In July, Franque was diagnosed with moderate acute malnutrition, and both babies have suffered diarrhoea, malaria and the flu in the past six months.

Maria said: “Now we are dying from hunger, all of us in the tents are dying of hunger… We don’t have anything for us to eat…There in some people’s farms there are bits of rotten corn, which we collect and peel them and grind them. The government helped us a lot here and even till now they are helping but now we are dying from hunger.”

Albertina (33) lives with her five children in a resettlement camp. During the cyclone and the floods that followed, Albertina and her family lost most of their belongings, including crops and food. Albertina said: “The biggest problem that is worrying us is food, things to eat are very scarce… We cook our food without oil… Before the cyclone we were farmers, we had bananas, we sold our bananas for our survival. We cultivated sesame and we sold it as well as maize, even vegetables and onions, we sold them, that’s what helped us a lot, goats, and chickens to sell. But all of these things we don’t have anymore.”

Save the Children’s Country Director in Mozambique, Chance Briggs, said: “We’re seeing recovery funds dry up just as people need them the most. Getting your life back together after you lose everything takes time. Six months on from Idai we are seeing families unable to earn cash because their crops have been destroyed, and sand and mud have overflowed the land they used to work. Many children are still out of school, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, child labour and early marriage.

“While the destructive effects of climate change will be discussed at the UN Climate Change summit later this month, Mozambique is already suffering the harsh reality of erratic weather patterns. It is critical that donors use this opportunity, six months on from one of the most devastating natural disasters to strike this region, to commit new funds to support the recovery. The response has only been 50% funded to date, with these funds largely committed in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone vii. More is needed, urgently, to get families back in a position where they can look towards the future with hope.”

Save the Children was among the first actors to respond to Cyclone Idai and reached over 400,000 people with humanitarian assistance to date. Our Emergency Health Unit has delivered life-saving healthcare for impacted children and families in the four affected provinces of Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia. Blankets, mosquito nets, buckets to store clean water and solar lights are still being distributed to families. To ensure children don’t miss out on months of learning, our education team has been assessing damaged schools for repairs, constructing temporary learning spaces and replacing school supplies to get classes underway. To support the emotional wellbeing of children who have suffered loss or separation from a loved one, we have established child-friendly spaces in shelters.

Save the Children is a member of the COSACA consortium, which has jointly reached close to a million people with assistance till date. Through COSACA, seeds and tools distributions are scheduled to take place assisting people with food production and a successful next harvest. Save the Children is working in close coordination with the government and the National Institute of Disaster Management to support children impacted by the disaster.

ENDS

i. Government of Mozambique Situation Report (August 2019)

ii. Government of Mozambique (2019). Mozambique Cyclone Idai Post Disaster Needs Assessment.

iii. MOZAMBIQUE Vulnerability Assessment Committee Results 2019

iv. In the projection period from October 2019 to February 2020, it is expected that this number of people could increase to 1,994,538 if there are no humanitarian interventions and taking into account that this is the lean season IPC July 2019

v. Referenced in [ii]

vi. UNOCHA Funding Tracker shows Total funding needs to the emergency in 2019: US$329.8m; total funding received: US$157.4m; and unmet requirements: US$160.4m https://fts.unocha.org/emergencies/808/summary/2019

vii. Referenced in [vi]


South African officials arrest returning Nigerians at airport

South Africa and Nigerian Presidents Ramaphosa and Buhari respectively

PRETORIA-(MaraviPost)-South African security agents were on Wednesday afternoon arrested Nigerians already profiled for evacuation out of the country for not possessing travel documents.

Fresh information showed that the South African officials showed up at the last minute of when the Nigerian citizens caught up in xenophobic attacks were already positioned to start boarding the Air Peace aircraft.

The aircraft was parked at the tarmac of the Oliver Tambo international airport as early as 4:00 am Wednesday morning when the South African officials effected the arrests.

The South African officials were said to have demanded the travel documents of the Nigerians and an explanation on how they came into South Africa without legal travel papers.

While only 182 of the 317 Nigerians who had been documented with their names on the flight manifest, the remaining 135 who are said to have been prevented from boarding the free flight were taken away by the South African immigration officials.

As at the time of filing this report, scores of journalists including those from foreign and local organisations are waiting without concrete news about when the Nigerians will be allowed to be flown back.

Meanwhile, the Air Peace airline is losing millions as its Boeing 777-200 plane deployed for the special flight continues to remain on the ground at the foreign country.


Fix students’ healthcare

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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Providing health services to secondary school students is a big challenge to the administrators. This is a rather delicate population that needs to be properly and promptly catered for. Therefore, the service providers must be reliable.

It is a pity that some unscrupulous people will try to manipulate for selfish gain a system meant to benefit such a vulnerable group. Hence, we commend the efforts by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to streamline healthcare in secondary schools. Through its EduAfya medical cover, the NHIF has sought to seal the loopholes being exploited by some crooked people.

This, of course, is a part of the endemic corruption that continues to plague the public sector. The NHIF has fired a warning shot by declaring that it will not pay for the services supposedly provided to schools by unaccredited medical suppliers. This is the way to go as it is only through proper registration that the service providers’ efficiency and capacity to deliver can be assessed and confirmed. It is the only way we can tell we are dealing with credible organisations that will deliver the required services.

As schools have already reopened for the third term, the quicker this can be done the better since illnesses cannot be kept on hold. Corruption often fights back. Therefore, the NHIF must go all out to restore order in an area that has been infiltrated by shady operators driven by greed and who cannot adequately provide the medical services that the students need. And while at it, the Fund must also ensure that the student medical cover becomes an effective tool for providing healthcare in schools.

All must heed Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang’s advice to choose service providers who can deliver the goods. The students’ health is too important to be left in unsure hands and at the mercy of a few crooked operators.


President must tame MPs’ greed for pay

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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Kenya’s MPs have increasingly demonstrated their penchant for self-gratification at the expense of the public. They routinely push up their salaries without regard to the law and economic conditions. They intimidate, manipulate and squeeze out opponents of their selfish machinations. They rank among the highest-paid in the region yet their productivity is marginal.

This is why we commend President Uhuru Kenyatta for rejecting the Parliamentary Service Commission Amendment Bill 2018 passed by Parliament recently that sought to empower MPs to award themselves salaries and other emoluments contrary to existing laws. As State officers, their pay and benefits are determined by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). They should not determine that by themselves. Underpinning is the desire to create equity and fairness in public sector remuneration.

For good measure, SRC has capped MPs’ pay, including rationalising their sitting allowances. But the MPs have been stridently opposed to this. On several occasions, they have threatened to decapitate the commission to ensure it does not block their nefarious schemes. Among others, it threatened to slash SRC’s budget to deny it resources, hence pushing it to grovel and become malleable. Fortunately, that design has not worked.

The concern is that MPs have managed to secure lucrative perks while the rest of public workers are strangled and starved. Not only do they earn good salaries, MPs also have lucrative perks, including a car allowance and mortgage. In recent times, they have introduced a hefty monthly housing allowance of Sh250,000 to be paid while in Nairobi. They subsequently hatched another plan to be paid night allowance to cater for their stay in the city.

And all this despite claiming hefty house allowances and enjoying one of the cheapest mortgage schemes in the country.

That is sheer rip-off and greed, which vices must be curtailed. MPs should not get their way when everybody else is sacrificing.

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MPs also control big budgets through the Constituency Development Fund, where they determine who sits in the management committees and decide how the cash is spent. They also control other devolved funds, such as bursaries that they use to buy votes.

When Kenyans decided to create SRC through the Constitution, the vision was unmistakable. They wanted an independent body to determine salaries and other benefits and eliminate a situation where some public officers decided own pay packages.

There must be fair play and objectivity in compensation. The MPs’ greed must be tamed by stopping them from making decisions on their salaries. That is why the bill has to be rejected.


Lilongwe residents vow to block President Mutharika from entering Capital City

Lilongwe residents vow to block President Mutharika from entering Capital City

By Nenenji Mlangeni

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Trouble is brewing for President Peter Mutharika in Lilongwe as some residents have vowed to block his motorcade from entering the city when he travels there Thursday afternoon.

Mutharika is expected to travel to Lilongwe from Blantyre tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon after being out of the capital city for about two months.

However some Lilongwe residents have vowed to block Mutharika from entering the city saying he is ‘not welcome’.

“We feel he should stay away until the elections case is over. Last time he came we forced him to use the bypass road but now he won’t event enter the city,” said Sceva Gamaliele one of the organizers of the ‘Mutharika asalowe Lilongwe’.

He said it is clear that Mutharika favours the southern region and that is why he was commuting between Mangochi and Blantyre.

“We know he will will come with heavy police and army presence but what you should know is that we are ready for him. He should dare come to Lilongwe tomorrow and let’s see what will happen,” chipped in another organizer who identified himself as Peter Kaunda.

Lately people on social media were referred to Mutharika as ‘Paseli Minibus’ after a popular minibus service which plies the Blantyre Mangochi route.

Mutharika is said to be afraid of going to Lilongwe because of the high political tension which may escalate to Kamuzu Palace.

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have just announced new anti-Jane Ansah demonstrations dubbed ‘2 million march’ where 2 million people are expected to march in each of the three cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.

Security sources said this is not a good time for the President to travel to Lilongwe where there is high political tension and his presence may just escalate the situation.

“People are now no longer afraid of security forces and this may pose a threat to the security of the President. It is better to delay his coming to Lilongwe until the situation improves,” said a security intelligence officer from Malawi Army who refused to be named.

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About 1800 Amisom soldiers killed in Shabaab war, new report shows

KEVIN J. KELLEYBy KEVIN J. KELLEY
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The overall death toll for the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) is probably in the range of 1,800 troops, says a new report by a US expert on the war against Al-Shabaab.

The findings by scholar Paul Williams are based, he states, on five sources. The most comprehensive data comes from African Union (AU) financial compensation records on sums paid to families who lost loved ones in the years since Amisom’s deployment in 2007.

DEATH TOLL

Prof Williams, author of the 2015 book ‘Fighting for Peace in Somalia,’ also cites a new data set listing attacks on Amisom soldiers and a “Memorial Wall of Our Heroes” erected in the AU headquarters building in Ethiopia.

His estimated Amisom death toll, contained in a report released on Tuesday by the New York-based International Peace Institute, does not include calculations of losses suffered specifically by Kenya or the other countries that contribute troops to Amisom.

“A plausible estimate of Amisom’s fatalities between March 2007 and December 2018 could be between 1,483 and 1,884,” writes Prof Williams, an international affairs scholar at George Washington University. “It is likely that the real number is closer to the higher end of this range than the lower end,” he adds.

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His computation does not reflect fatalities likely suffered by Amisom during a three-and-a-half-month period for which no data is currently available. The estimate also does not include any of the deaths that have occurred so far this year.

It is impossible to provide a definitive figure for the number of Amisom dead because troop-contributing countries have not released lists of their personnel killed in Somalia, Prof Williams notes.

“This is not good policy,” he states.

“All peacekeepers who make the ultimate sacrifice should have their service publicly recognised,” the author argues. “Not doing so is not only immoral, but it is likely to have a negative effect on morale.” The non-disclosure policy could impede families’ efforts to claim financial compensation to which they are entitled, Prof Williams suggests.

In addition, “not releasing full details about peacekeeper deaths in Somalia plays into Al-Shabaab’s hands, who are often able to dominate the media terrain in the absence of an authoritative and trusted AU or Amisom voice.”

“A mission that doesn’t provide the whole truth about its own dead cannot be surprised if Somalis think it lacks credibility when trying to pronounce on other issues,” Prof Williams writes.

AU financial records for the period August 2009 to September 2012 show that death compensation payments of $50,000 were made for each of 439 Amisom fatalities, the report notes. Additional payments of $10,000 were made for each of the approximately 575 Amisom soldiers injured during that time.

Newly released AU financial statements for 2014 through 2018 show that the AU paid a total of $74.6 million in death and disability compensation between 2014 and 2018.

Based on the ratio of death and disability payments derived from the AU’s earlier report, it is likely that 79 percent of the $74.6 million covered compensation for deaths and 21 percent for disability, Prof Williams surmises.

That calculation produces a figure of 1,179 payments for deceased personnel and 1,567 payments for injured Amisom members.

The 79:21 ratio is plausible, Prof Williams suggests, due to “Amisom’s numerous remote forward operating bases, the mission’s limited capacity for rapid casualty evacuation (partly owing to a lack of rapid response forces and appropriate helicopters), and the relatively poor state of its medical facilities.”

The AU’s wall of heroes in its Addis Ababa headquarters lists the names and ranks of peacekeepers who have died in AU-authorised operations in Burundi, the Central African Republic and Sudan as well as Somalia.

As of August 2019, there were 1108 names listed on the wall, Prof Williams notes.

Amisom has its own memorial for fallen personnel outside its force headquarters in Mogadishu, he adds. “However, it lists no names or numbers.”

Its dedication reads: “In memory of the officers, men and women of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), and the Somali National Security Forces (SNSF), who lost their lives in pursuit of peace and stability in Somalia.” 


RSA’ Xenophobic attacks displace 113 Malawians

Malawian Shakira Bakuwa fled her home in Burnwood last week with her husband and three-year-old daughter

PRETORIA-(MaraviPost)-Malawi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says about 113 of its citizens have been affected by the last week’s South Africa Xenophobia attacks.

The Ministry’s Spokesperson Rejoice Shumba disclosed that the said citizens are stranded in Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality of Gauteng province.

Shumba disclosed that the displaced Malawians and other foreign nationals are being kept in makeshift shelters in Katlehong, a place identified by that country’s Department of Disasters.

She said: “We have received reports that 113 Malawians have been displaced, but people should be assured that government is ensuring the safety of the people. The Malawi

Mission in South Africa is visiting the facility as often as possible.”

Demographically the 113 Malawians are: 68 males, 30 females and 15 children. Currently the ministry has contacted United Nations International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to repatriate those willing to come back home.

The attacks on foreign nationals in SA have seen shops, business premises, cars and properties being looted and torched. In 2008, over 60 people were killed in xenophobic

attacks and in 2015, seven people lost their lives in the violence that ensued.

South Africa has a population of over 55 million people and survey reports reveal that the total population of foreigners hover around 1.6 – 2.2 million which is just four percent of that country’s population.

Gift of The Givers is currently supplying daily necessities to the stranded foreign nationals.


Knut steering team bans Sossion from accessing union headquarters

FAITH NYAMAI By FAITH NYAMAI
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The Kenya National Union of Teachers(Knut) steering committee Wednesday banned embattled secretary-general Wilson Sossion from accessing the union headquarters.

The committee that was chaired by Knut national chairman Wickliffe Omucheyi said Mr Sossion is no longer the secretary-general.

He said the union will not be run by courts, insisting that the only person who can speak for the union is Mr Hesbon Otieno who was appointed by the National Executive Council (NEC).

“This union is governed by a constitution and not by courts. We are asking our brother Sossion to stop masquerading as the secretary-general,” said Mr Omucheyi.

Speaking at the Knut headquarters, national treasurer John Matiang’i said it is not going to be business as usual for Mr Sossion.

“From today, we are not going to allow anyone who is not an employee or a union member to access our offices, Sossion should know that he remains suspended and therefore he is no longer leading this union,” said Mr Matiang’i.

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Mr Matiang’i said the national steering committee is ready to fight for Knut to the end even he hit back at those saying he is eyeing the secretary general’s position to stop the propaganda.

“I am the national treasurer and I am not about to leave this post for a secretary general’s post, what Sossion must know is that if he wants the post again he should wait for the Annual delegates conference to be re-elected or rejected,” said Mr Matiang’i.

Wednesday, Mr Omucheyi said, the union is currently using the register from the registra of trade union who suspended Mr Sossion and in his place appointed Mr Otieno.

“We are surprised that our brother is causing a lot of confusion yet he knows what the union’s constitution says, let him respect the decision of council members,” said Mr Omucheyi.

The newly appointed Secretary General Mr Hesbon Otieno the union is not ready to engage in street discussions.

He said the union is focused on teacher’s issues and is preparing to meet with the teacher’s employer today to resolve all the issues affecting teachers.

“The National Executive Council (NEC) pronounced itself on the union’s leadership, we will only be guided by that decision,” said Mr Hesbon.

He added, “Nobody should masquerade to say that he is the secretary general, I am the acting secretary general as at now,”

During the Knut and TSC meeting, Mr Hesbon said they will be discussion with TSC on the dismissal of 42 teachers who were fired because of participating on the April new curriculum training.


A view of Kenya from across Mt Elgon in eastern Uganda

CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBOBy CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
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On Tuesday, we visited Kapchorwa, a district in eastern Uganda spanning the Mt Elgon area, which shares a border with Kenya.

In August 2018, Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto was in these parts with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, flagging off the construction of the Kapchrowa-Suam road, which will link the two countries.

LONG-FORGOTTEN

With our Kenyan-registered car, and lots of photography stops, the locals in the area must have thought we had something to do with the road.

No, we were there partly to sniff around and get a sense of what this road, now long-forgotten by most people after last year’s flag-off, might do.

Perhaps developments there are worth a little more attention.

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The Chinese are on site and there is quite some work going on and gravel being piled up. The big people spoke of this taking 36 months. Looks like it might happen.

They also said things about how the road was a “game changer” in East Africa and would bring the fruits of regional trade to the doorsteps of millions from Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Sounded suspiciously too grandiose.

The idea seems to come from the fact that, from the Suam border post, the road into Kenya will traverse the existing Endebess-Kitale road into the Eldoret bypass.

The Eldoret bypass involves the construction of basically a new road.

Anyway, put all that together, you have an expanded transport pipeline to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan and, somehow, Ethiopia will get a piece of it through this flow.

SELLING FOOD

It is all a little too much for us small people to understand but we could figure out a few more down-to-earth things.

The lands of Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts, through which the road passes, though being battered by environmental degradation, are still quite fertile.

They form part of a belt in Uganda that is selling food to Kenya like it is going out of fashion.

The days before the big market days in eastern Uganda are feverish, with lots of sacks of food being loaded up. On market days, the Kenyans come in droves and swoop it all up.

Last year, trade officials in Kampala toasted to some statistics that made people very pleased in Ugandan officialdom.

Favourable trade balance

For the first time in donkey’s years, Uganda had a favourable trade balance with Kenya — and all its neighbours.

According to Bank of Uganda figures, in the financial year 2017/2018, Uganda had a trade surplus of $122.78 million (Sh12 billion) with Kenya (exports of $628.47 million against imports of $505.70 million). A large part of that was food.

The thing, though, is that is only a small part of the story.

When you drive around eastern Ugandan, along the main roads and towns, there are many signs of Kenyan seed companies like Simlaw advertising their locations in the country and also products.

So, quite a bit of the food exported by Uganda to Kenya is made possible by Kenyan seeds.

Our mouths and stomachs unite in very complex ways. The road is also likely to change the food business around the Endebess-Kitale-Eldoret corridor.

There is something else. With every passing year, Ugandan middle- and long-distance runners are threatening Kenya’s athletics bacon.

Those Ugandans who, according to Kenyans, have suspiciously Rift Valley-sounding “Kip” and “Chep” names and might well be Kenyans hiding among their cross-border Sabiny cousins and pretending to be Ugandans. They are from Kapchorwa-Kween-Bukwo, which will be thrown even more open by the Kapchorwa-Suam road.

Those long-distance world medals … Kenya should begin preparing to share half of them with Uganda.

My Kenyan travelling partner kept chuckling when we passed towns like Cheptui, Chesebere and Kamorok, asking me to reassure him we were still in Uganda and not in the environs of Eldoret or Pokot.

Students of history will know that most of the areas from the Uganda border up Baringo and Naivasha were the “Eastern Province of Uganda” until they were transferred to present-day Kenya at the start of the 1900s — as was, indeed, part of Kisumu.

When you think of it, Uganda is, perhaps, much better off being connected to these Kenyan regions by roads rather than them being part of it. It would have been impossible, even for a strongman like President Yoweri Museveni, to govern the country.

Mr Onyango-Obbo is the curator of the Wall of Great Africans and publisher of explainer site Roguechiefs.com. @cobbo3


Robert Mugabe's body arrives home for burial in divided Zimbabwe

AFPBy AFP
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The body of Zimbabwe’s ex-president, Robert Mugabe, arrived home on Wednesday for burial in a country divided over the legacy of a former liberation hero whose 37-year rule was marked by repression and economic ruin.

Mugabe, a guerrilla leader who rose to power after Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain and governed until he was ousted by the military in 2017, died on Friday in Singapore, aged 95.

IRON-FISTED RULE

His health deteriorated after he was toppled by the army and former loyalists in November 2017, ending an increasingly iron-fisted rule during which he crushed his opponents.

Around two thousand supporters, family members and government officials were on the tarmac at Harare airport to welcome Mugabe’s remains as they arrived by charter flight from Singapore.

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Soldiers stood guard along a red carpet as military officers walked solemnly with the coffin drapped in the green, gold, black and red national flag.

His wife, Grace, wearing a black veil, sat with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mugabe died on a medical trip to Singapore, where he had been travelling regularly for treatment. A delegation including Vice President Kembo Mohadi headed to the affluent city-state on a chartered flight to bring him home.

The body will be taken to Mugabe’s private Harare residence, known as the Blue Roof, for the night. It will be laid out for the public to pay their respects in Rufaro stadium on Thursday, before heading to his homestead Zvimba.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, former Cuban leader Raul Castro and a dozen African presidents, including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, are among those expected to attend Mugabe’s state funeral on Saturday in Harare, Zimbabwe’s presidency said.

Mugabe’s final burial place on Sunday, though, is still unclear.

His family and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government are apparently at odds over whether it would be at his homestead northwest of Harare or at a shrine for liberation heroes in the capital.

A DIVIDED COUNTRY

At home, Zimbabweans have been divided over how to mourn a man once hailed for ridding the former British colony Rhodesia of white-minority rule but who later purged his foes in a campaign of massacres and executions known as the Gukurahundi.

His increasingly tyrannical leadership and economic mismanagement prompted millions to flee a country crippled by hyper-inflation and shortages of food, drugs and fuel.

Following his death, Mnangagwa announced Mugabe had been declared a “national hero”, flags flew at half mast across Harare and news of his passing was splashed across newspaper front pages.

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

On Thursday and Friday the body will lie in state at Rufaro Stadium in Mbare township in Harare for the public to pay their final respects. Officials plan to bus people in from the provinces to attend.

The 35,000-seat stadium is where Mugabe took his oath of office at a colourful ceremony when colonial Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith handed over the reins of the country.

There Mugabe hoisted the new Zimbabwe flag and lit the independence flame on April 18, 1980 — bringing hope for a new era after a long guerrilla war.

The official funeral will take place on Saturday, at the giant 60,000-seat National Sports Stadium in Harare, where foreign leaders will attend.

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.