IN a move widely seen as a ploy to screen speakers at the late national hero, Dumiso Dabengwa's burial set for this Saturday, the Joint Operations Command (JOC) has taken over the burial programme.
In a telephone interview with NewZimbabwe.com, Zapu acting president Isaac Mabuka confirmed the development. Burial programmes for national heroes are normally handled by the Ministry of Home Affairs in conjunction with family members.
"Our secretary general Strike Mnkandla is with the JOC right now, finalising the burial programme for our late president. Phone him to ask for more details," said Mabuka.
Mnkandla also confirmed the development, adding Zapu was expecting a number of foreign dignitaries for the burial at Ntabazinduna, Matabeleland North.
With outspoken local traditional leader Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni and others including MDC president Nelson Chamisa expected to attend, President Emmerson Mnangagwa's handlers may want to reduce the risk of the Zanu PF leader being embarrassed if his adversaries are allowed to address mourners.
Chamisa's spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda confirmed the MDC leader has plans to attend.
"The president (Chamisa) was very close to the late national hero, Dabengwa and would want to attend his burial.
"There have been changes to the programme but president Chamisa is in constant touch with the family so that he is able to plan with the aim of paying his respects on his passing," said Sibanda.
Insiders however said Chamisa had made the decision that he will attend, Dabengwa's burial.
Chief Ndiweni courted the ire of government after he called for additional sanctions in response to a land dispute involving a white commercial farmer Brian Davies who is facing eviction.
The traditional leader went one better last weekend, by attending the opposition MDC's congress in Gweru and came short of calling on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to hand over power to Chamisa whom he described as "the popular president".
Dabengwa died last week in Nairobi, Kenya on his way back home from India where he had gone to seek specialist medical care.
He was declared a national hero but his family requested that he be laid to rest in his rural home as was his wish before he died.