Mugabe loyalists in the Zanu-PF are insisting that the remains of Cecil John Rhodes, politician and founder of Rhodesia, should be exhumed and returned home to the United Kingdom.
According to The South African the Zanu-PF activists visited Rhodes’ gravesite in the Matopos Hills outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe recently.
They expressed their anger that the body is being allowed to remain in the country.
The Right Honourable Cecil Rhodes.
Rhodes’ grave consists of a granite tomb and simple brass plaque and resides in the Matopos National Park, a state-owned reserve south-east of Bulawayo. The area is popular with tourists, who generally like to visit the gravesite of the famous man. Rhodes was buried there in 1902 after dying of heart failure.
Despite pressure from the Zanu-PF, Mugabe’s government has managed to resist any calls to exhume Rhodes’ remains, although there have been calls for this since Zimbabwe became independent in 1980.
After the activists visited the grave to discuss their plans with a Matopos village Chief, a police investigation has been called for. Zimbabwe’s Radio VOP reported that among the group was Monica Mguni-Sikhosana, a senior Zanu-PF official. Apparently the activists turned up unannounced.
Buster Magwizi who is the chairman of an organization for veterans who fought for Zimbabwe’s second liberation party, Zapu said: “We are shocked by the behaviour of these people, they should be arrested.”
Cecil Rhodes makes peace with the Ndebele, Matobo Hills, 1896. Sketch by Robert Baden-Powell
“We wonder where they are getting permission and guts to do that, because that is a respected and protected area,” he added.
Cecil John Rhodes was born in 1853 in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England and died aged 48. Rhodes made his fortune in the diamond industry and founded De Beers, which at one point provided 90% of the world’s supply of diamonds.
He was a leading politician in South Africa and fierce believer in British colonialism and hoped to expand the British Empire from Cape Town to Cairo. He founded Rhodesia in his own name in 1888, although it was renamed Zimbabwe in 1980.
Let’s hope that Rhodes can continue to rest in peace.