Tsvangirai's body arrives today

HARARE - The late Morgan Tsvangirai’s body will be flown home tonight from South Africa for burial in Buhera on Monday.

He will be buried at the Tsvangirai family graveyard in Humanikwa Village, alongside his late first wife, Susan Tsvangirai.

This is after government denied him hero status and settled for a State-assisted funeral.

A former prime minister who had hoped to contest in this year’s presidential election, Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer on Wednesday at a Johannesburg hospital.

Tsvangirai’s body, which was being kept at a South African funeral home, will be taken to OR Tambo Airport to be flown to Harare via Air Zimbabwe today around 7pm.

It will then lie in state at the Tsvangirai family residence at Number 49 Kew Drive in Highlands, Harare.

On Sunday, the body will be taken to the Robert Mugabe Square for a public farewell before proceeding to his native Humanikwa Village where he will be buried.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has tasked the Pretoria Mission to handle the repatriation of the body and pick up the tab.

Zanu PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, visited Tsvangirai’s Highlands family residence yesterday where she delivered a moving tribute to the MDC leader.

“Vakabata basa rinoshamisa (he did an amazing job),” Muchinguri-Kashiri — who was accompanied by Zanu PF national spokesperson, ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo, and national political commissar, retired lieutenant general Engelbert Rugeje — said.

Khaya Moyo had earlier told the Daily News yesterday that only a State-assisted funeral would be given to Tsvangirai.

“The president has already spoken and he will only get a State-assisted funeral. He will not be declared a national hero,” said the Zanu PF spokesperson.

MDC acting president Nelson Chamisa said the party had not approached government to consider a hero’s status for the fallen opposition veteran.

“We were not approached; neither did we approach them for that consideration. What we know and what everyone knows is that Tsvangirai is a hero; an epitome of democracy and the one who taught Zimbabwe the politics of love,” Chamisa told the Daily News.

In his condolence message, Mnangagwa had said “consultations are underway in government and with the family to determine what else government needs to do to accord the late departed befitting honour”.

National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku said this was expected from a rigid Zanu PF government.

“Tsvangirai is a national hero but the national hero status has never been an objective framework to honour those who are real heroes,” he told the Daily News.

“It has always been a Zanu PF framework. So I am surprised that people are looking to Zanu PF to make Tsvangirai a national hero. So, unless Zanu PF has announced that they have changed the framework and that a national hero is now a national hero, then Tsvangirai would be made a national hero.

“I suspect they will come up with their usual State-assisted burials. If they do accord Tsvangirai hero status, then it will not be sincere because these are the same people who said Tsvangirai will never rule because he does not have liberation struggle credentials. It will be an attempt to score political points.”

Academic and scholar Miles Tendi said by denying hero status to Tsvangirai, Mnangagwa had shown that the ruling party was still driven by “enmity” and “entitlement”.

“That is the ‘real’ Mnangagwa, not the one who paid a ‘compassionate’ visit to Tsvangirai at his residence in January or the one who expressed sorrow and made a State-assisted funeral pledge today.

“Mnangagwa warmed, opportunistically, to Tsvangirai because the long-time opposition leader now had a terminal illness; he was no longer a political threat,” said Tandi.

Former Zanu PF stalwarts, Rugare Gumbo and Jabulani Sibanda said there was need to rethink the criteria used in according hero’s status.

“The problem has been that the former president (Mugabe toppled in a November soft coup) had his perception on heroes. He thought that one who is supposed to go to the Heroes Acre is one who has been on his side and that endures today.

“But from my perspective, a hero is a person who has contributed to the struggle. For those who have fought in the liberation struggle, there has been a selective application of that rule. So, many people have been overlooked. Government should have a relook at that. Tsvangirai was a hero in his own way, particularly fighting for democracy in the country. He was the veteran of democracy and he should have been declared one,” Gumbo said.

Sibanda, who is a former leader of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, said government’s decision to overlook Tsvangirai was regrettable.

“It’s a sad story. I don’t understand why heroism has become so distorted. It’s about serving the people. Tsvangirai served the people of this country with distinction as a trade unionist. He stood with workers during the time when their rights had been taken away by the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme.

“He later became a leader of the MDC and he stood by what he believed in. He believed that politics is about a contestation of policies. His party got representatives in Parliament and enhanced democracy in the country.

“When electoral disputes arose, he chose to engage regional leaders until they got to recognise him as a national leader.

“He never resorted to any other means outside the democratic process like we witness in other African countries. When there was a dispute in 2008, he resisted the temptation to go violent but chose to negotiate for a Government of National Unity. Tsvangirai believed in democracy because he wanted to either win or negotiate his way to power,” Sibanda said.

Former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said the ruling party must demonstrate that it is indeed charting a new path by recognising people like Tsvangirai regardless of their political views.

“The new system must behave as a new setup that respects and accords honour where it is due. I don’t think there is anyone among us who had the courage of Tsvangirai.

“When none could, Tsvangirai had the courage to fight. When you talk of democracy in Zimbabwe, you have to mention Tsvangirai,” Mutasa said.

Comments (2)

rest in peace our hero mr morgen tsvangirai will remember you every day of our lives

thabani zhou - 17 February 2018

rest in peace our hero

thabani zhou - 17 February 2018

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