African leaders on Saturday gathered in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare as the country prepares for former President Robert Mugabe’s state funeral.
More than a dozen current and former leaders, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, are expected to attend, the BBC reported.
His family had indicated he wanted to buried privately, angered over the way he had been ousted from power after 37 years.
Incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa will address mourners at the National Sports Stadium, where thousands will wear the colours of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Mugabe’s body is now lying in state at the Rufaro football stadium in the capital before the funeral later in the day in the National Heroes Acre monument.
Mr Mugabe died in Singapore last week at the age of 95 that left Zimbabweans torn over the legacy of a leader once lauded as an anti-colonial guerrilla hero, but whose 37-year iron-fisted rule ended in a coup in 2017.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa had expressed his heartfelt demise of Mugabe, called him nation’s “founding father”.
Taking to Twitter, Mnangagwa said, “Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people”.
Mugabe won Zimbabwe’s first election after independence and became prime minister in 1980. He abolished the office in 1987, becoming president instead.
He was imprisoned for more than a decade without trial after criticising the government of Rhodesia in 1964.
In 1973, while still in prison, he was chosen as president of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), of which he was a founding member.