Fighter Jets, Helicopters Over Harare

The late Vice-president Joseph Msika, seen here in October 2008 soon after he and Joice Mujuru had been sworn in as Vice-presidents by Mugabe at State House, will now almost certainly be buried at Heroes Acre on Heroes Day.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 05 August 2009

As I write this now, just after 4:30p.m. Harare time, there are fighter jets and helicopters flying over the city centre of Harare.

It is an indication that there will indeed be a huge State Funeral for the deceased Vice President of Zimbabwe, Joseph Msika. What is still not certain is whether the president and ZANU PF have won out and the funeral will be held at Heroes Acre in Harare on Heroes Day, 11 August.

It is worth noting, this activity by the Zimbabwe Air Force because, normally, although they do conduct a fly-past on Defence Forces Day, 12 August, their practice sessions do not start until two or, at most, three days before the holiday itself.

Those who were with Mugabe at his Politburo meeting this morning when he announced the death of the Vice President say he was "tense and distracted", perhaps betraying his anxiety over the negotiations going on.

Mugabe, noted members of his ZANU PF Politburo, did not greet them at all as he traditionally does at the beginning of every meeting of the body.

Instead, he walked in, sat down and announced the death of the VP.

Mugabe apparently told the meeting that although it is just a formality, the ZANU PF body still has to deliberate and officially come up with a position on his status as a hero. I understand that the decision to declare him a National Hero has now been reached.

Still, there are formalities to be completed before the nation can be officially told.

After that, and in accordance with State protocol, the official position will then be communicated to the family. Although meetings have been held with staff from the President's office, ZANU PF takes precedence and only after it has made an official decision will it send one of its own to tell the family officially.

It is expected that Mugabe will visit the family either today or tomorrow to deliver that message.

After that, the official announcement will then be made.

I expect the 8 o'clock news tonight will cover this.

As one of the most senior politicians in Zimbabwe, whose career goes back to the 1950s (he was active in political leadership before Mugabe), it is also said to be "fitting" that he be sent off with a massive display by the Defence Forces.

Hence the fighter jets and helicopters.

I should give you another update later on tonight after I come back from the VPs home where mourners are condoling with the family.


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