Mugabe, Kibaki to attend Mutharika burial

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who was a close ally of late Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika, has confirmed that he will fly to Malawi to attend the April 23, 2012 burial of late Mutharika.

Despite reported poor health, Mugabe has confirmed that he wants to pay homage to the man he called “dear brother and a close comrade.”

Chairperson of the Cabinet committee organising Mutharika’s funeral, Henry Mussa, confirmed to Nyasa Times.

Mussa also said President of Africa’s economic giant South Africa, Jacob Zuma, will attend the funeral. Zuma relationship with the dictator was not cordial but his country has now good rapport with the Joyce Banda administration.

Mutharika and Mugabe: Were close pals

“President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President Jacob Zuma have communicated that they will attend the burial,” said Mussa whose wife Agrina has ancestry links with Zimbabwe and serves as Malawi envoy in South Africa.

In a condolence message Mugabe said the late Mutharika  was a great son of Africa. Mugabe  said he was touched by the death “in the most personal way.”

Mussa said the committee expects more heads of State to make their confirmations this week ahead of burial at Mutharika’s personal Ndata Farm in the southern tea-growing district of Thyolo.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and other four African heads of State  who have confirmed to attend the funeral are Mozambique’s Armando Guebuza, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, Namibia’s Hipikepunye Pohamba and Benin’s Thomas Yayi Boni, according to Mussa.

He said among dignitaries who have confirmed their attendance is the deputy secretary general of the Commonwealth,  Ransfold Smith, who will represent the organisation’s secretariat.

Mutharika will be buried in a mausoleum –Mpumulo wa bata –  he constructed for his first wife, Ethel, who died of cancer in 2007 aged 64.

The remains of the 78-year-old economist-turned politician meanwhile  lie in state at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.  Mutharika’s remains will be taken to his Ndata Farm on Sunday for burial.

The late president who was an oppressive “Mr know-it-all” died on April 5 after suffering a fatal heart attack.

New Malawi President, Her Excellency Joyce Banda, who was sworn in a week ago as only Africa’s second female head of state, has urged Malawians to give her predecessor a “dignified funeral.”

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