Robert Mugabe’s homecoming is as full of contradictions as was his life, writes Penny Marshall

Robert Mugabe’s homecoming and burial is as full of contradictions as was his life.

Declared a national hero - his coffin was today received onto Zimbabwean soil by the same men who’d overthrown him in a military coup.

And they may want to embrace him - but it’s not at all clear the feeling is mutual.

Mugabe’s family and the government appear to be at loggerheads about the former leader's final resting place.

There are rumours his final wish was to be buried with his mother - eschewing the pomp of a hero’s burial in Harare.

Emmerson Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe, but many say he hasn't helped the ailing state. Credit: AP

Family members told me the matter is "still to be decided".

But it was the current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who lead the official mourners at the airport this afternoon as his government continued to public ally promise a funeral of unprecedented scale.

But ask the people, and they tell me what’s unprecedented, even for a country used to problems, is the hardship of daily life here now.

There is a crucial power shortage with electricity available for no more than a few hours a day.

Zimbabwe's economy is still crippled by poor management. Credit: AP

In the Sithole household, I watch as 11 year old Tyler tries to do her homework by candle light. Her ambition to be a doctor is severely challenged.

"Sometimes the candle doesn’t last long enough to finish," she explains to me .

Mugabe barely touched her life but his legacy is all around her.

There is a critical fuel shortage, hardly any water, food is scarce and inflation is rampant.

Hospitals can barely function, schools are asking parents to provide food instead of fees in order to keep going .

Unemployment is sky high. The economy is contracting. Human rights abuses common place.

Aid agencies tell me that more than three million people will need food assistance in the coming months, if nothing improves .

Zimbabwe's currency collapsed, making way for hyperinflation. Credit: AP

Meanwhile, opposition MP Fadzay Mahere say it’s not all about Mugabe.

She says, after the 2017 coup when he was removed, there was a moment of hope that things would improve - and then they didn’t. People have realised the system Mugabe created is still in place and rotten, she believes.

Benin Sithole agrees. Unemployed and struggling to feed his family this former soldier tells me: "Mugabe created this and Mnangagwa made it worse - much worse."

Zimbabawe is about to embrace four days of mourning for its liberator, whose decisions continue to define the nation he founded.