'Tsvangirai had forgiven Mugabe'

BULAWAYO - Former Cabinet minister Welshman Ncube says the late MDC leader  Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in South Africa last week — had no bitterness towards deposed ex-president Robert Mugabe despite suffering physical and emotional abuse during his time in the opposition trenches.

Tsvangirai, who died aged 65 after losing his battle with cancer of the colon, will be buried at Humanikwa Village, Buhera, today.

Addressing mourners at a memorial service in Bulawayo, leader of the smaller MDC, who is also spokesperson of the MDC Alliance — Ncube — told mourners that Tsvangirai had long forgiven Mugabe and securocrats, despite being tortured and denied electoral victory in 2008.

“We are celebrating Tsvangirai’s life, a life which was so rich, so diverse. I want to remind you that Tsvangirai won the 2008 presidential election. He did not get the 47 percent as claimed by the electoral commission.

“He got more than that, that is why it took them six weeks to rig, and that is why I always say Zimbabwe’s first coup was in 2008, not in November last year. It was a pre-emptive coup. When they removed Mugabe, they already had experience but Tsvangirai forgave them,” Ncube told mourners.

“The 2008 coup leaders are the same that removed Mugabe last year but Tsvangirai had long forgiven them for robbing him of the presidency.

“He had no bitterness at all. He had no grudge against them, no bitterness that over the years they vilified him, arrested him, beat him and laid treason charges against him. He was selfless,” added Ncube.

In 2004, Tsvangirai was cleared of treason when the High Court ruled that there was no evidence linking him to a plot to assassinate Mugabe.

An Israeli former arms dealer based in Montreal, Canada — Ari Ben Menashe — had secretly recorded Tsvangirai in a grainy video which the State had relied on to charge the MDC leader.

In March 2007, Tsvangirai and other senior opposition figures were left for dead when heavily armed riot police used force to break a prayer meeting in Highfield.

And in 2008, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe hands-down in the hotly-disputed presidential elections.

However, the results of those polls were withheld for six long weeks by stunned authorities — amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud which were later revealed by former bigwigs of the ruling party.

In the ensuing sham presidential run-off, which authorities claimed was needed to determine the winner, Zanu PF apparatchiks engaged in a murderous orgy of violence in which hundreds of Tsvangirai’s supporters were killed in cold blood, forcing the former prime minister in the inclusive government to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.

Mugabe went on to stand in a widely-condemned one-man race in which he declared himself the winner.

However, Sadc and the rest of the international community would have none of it, forcing the nonagenarian to share power with Tsvangirai for five years, to prevent the country from imploding completely.

Mugabe was deposed last November after the military launched Operation Restore Legacy, which led to him and his wife Grace being removed from power and being placed under house arrest.

Several Cabinet ministers linked to the Generation 40 (G40) faction who had coalesced around Grace were targeted in the operation which ended towards Christmas, with the soldiers only retreating to the barracks after five weeks of executing the operation.

The curtain fell on the veteran former Zimbabwe and Zanu PF leader on November 21 when he resigned moments after Parliament had started proceedings to impeach him.

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