Children carry firewood near the place where former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was supposed to be buried at the National Heroes Acre, in Harare, Friday, Sept, 27, 2019. Zimbabwe's former president Mugabe will now be buried at his rural home, according to a government spokesperson. Mugabe's burial location has been a source of mystery and contention since his death earlier this month at age 95 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

ZVIMBA, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe's longtime leader Robert Mugabe is expected to be buried on Saturday, a family spokesman said Friday, after three weeks of drama over the former strongman's final resting place.

Security was tight around the rural home that now will be the burial site after an abrupt change of plans left Zimbabwe's government with an incomplete mausoleum on a hilltop in the capital, Harare.

Family spokesman Leo Mugabe confirmed the new plan, a day after the government announced it would comply with the family's latest wishes. Tensions have been evident between the family and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a once-trusted deputy who helped oust Mugabe from power in late 2017 as thousands cheered in the streets.

The family has preferred the rural site but agreed on a burial at the National Heroes Acre in Harare — only after the construction of a mausoleum that would set Mugabe apart from the rest. The shrine is reserved mainly for independence war and ruling party elites, and the government has wanted Mugabe to be buried there among former comrades.

Now steel rods and scaffolding remain at the site as the drama over the resting place of one of Africa's longest serving leaders continues.

Mugabe died this month in Singapore at age 95. He led Zimbabwe for 37 years before being forced by the military and ruling party to retire.

Mugabe, who led the bitter guerrilla war to end white-minority rule in the country then known as Rhodesia, was Zimbabwe's first leader and ruled the country from 1980 for 37 years, from years of prosperity to economic ruin and repression.

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Construction of a mausoleum where former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was supposed to be buried continues at the National Heroes Acre, in Harare, Friday, Sept, 27, 2019. Zimbabwe's former president Mugabe will now be buried at his rural home, according to a government spokesperson. Mugabe's burial location has been a source of mystery and contention since his death earlier this month at age 95 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Construction of a mausoleum where former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was supposed to be buried continues at the National Heroes Acre, in Harare, Friday, Sept, 27, 2019. Zimbabwe's former president Mugabe will now be buried at his rural home, according to a government spokesperson. Mugabe's burial location has been a source of mystery and contention since his death earlier this month at age 95 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)