Mugabe died in Singapore on September 6 and his remains were returned to Harare on Wednesday, with a series of activities lined up to enable Zimbabweans to pay their last respects, culminating in burial next week.
However, the issue of his final resting place has caused divisions between the Mugabe family and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and the ruling ZANU PF party.
Mugabe’s family on Thursday dug in during discussions with Mnangagwa and his officials about where the late Zimbabwean strongman will be buried.
The family said in a statement that it was not happy that the government wanted to coerce it into accepting a funeral programme that has been developed without consulting close relatives.
It revealed that before he died Mugabe had spelt out his wishes and the family cannot go against those wishes.
“We are ready and willing to work with the government to develop a programme for the funeral and burial of the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe which is in conformance to his wishes on how his mortal remains will be interred,” the statement said.
The family says Mugabe died a bitter man and never forgave Mnangagwa and other senior ruling ZANU PF officials whom he accused of betraying him.
Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, was unceremoniously removed from power in November 2017 following a military coup engineered by Mnangagwa, his trusted deputy until they fell out two years ago.
The coup was triggered by Mugabe’s decision to fire Mnangagwa who was then vice president.
His ousting was greeted with happiness by most Zimbabweans, including those who used to fete on the veteran leader.
As a result of this, he felt betrayed by his own and is understood to have told his family that he did not want to be buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare where his first wife, Ghanaian-born Sally Mugabe, is interred.
It was his wish to be buried at his rural home in Zvimba, about 85km from Harare.
"His body will lie in state at Kutama on Sunday night ... followed by a private burial - either Monday or Tuesday - no National Heroes Acre. That's the decision of the whole family," his nephew Leo Mugabe told news agencies on Thursday.
On Thursday, ordinary Zimbabweans and supporters are expected to pay their last respects to Mugabe at a stadium where the body will lie in state.