President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday joined opposition parties, Zimbabweans and the international community in mourning the late
By Everson Mushava
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in a South African hospital on Wednesday.
Tsvangirai (65) was battling colon cancer and had been in and out of hospital since last year when his condition deteriorated.
Mnangagwa described Tsvangirai as a strong trade unionist and selfless opposition leader to be always remembered for his readiness to stretch and reach out across the political divide for a Government of National Unity (GNU) after the polarising 2008 elections.
“Both in and after the GNU, he remained a national figure who obdurately insisted on free, fair, credible and non-violent elections as a way of strengthening our democracy and our overall re-engagement with the rest of the world,” Mnangagwa said.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga took to microblogging site Twitter to describe Tsvangirai as a “Great son of the soil.”
“We are saddened by the death of MT. We will sit and see how Zimbabweans can honour that Great son of the soil,” Chiwenga said in a tweet on Wednesday night.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara also posted on Twitter: “A sad day indeed. MT is gone. A great Zimbabwean. A committed patriot. An exemplary leader. A distinguished fighter for democracy and social justice. MHSRIP.”
There was also an outpouring of condolence messages from the international community.
United Kingdom Foreign secretary Boris Johnson said: “Morgan Tsvangirai represented courage and determination in the face of oppression, and gave ordinary Zimbabweans faith to believe in the future. He was one of the bravest political leaders of his time and will be sadly missed.”
The United States embassy in Harare also joined the country in morning Tsvangirai, describing him as a courageous leader, who tirelessly fought for peace and democratic principles.
“We salute his relentless struggle for the equitable treatment of all political parties, and for his insistence that every voice in Zimbabwe share the right to be heard,” the US said in a statement.
European Union Head of Delegation Philippe Van Damme said: “It was a great honour and privilege to have known Morgan Tsvangirai. Rest in peace and let your legacy not be betrayed.”
Nigerian Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, leader of The Synagogue Church of All Nations, also joined Zimbabweans in mourning Tsvangirai.
“It is important to realise that the manner in which a person dies does not matter; what counts is the life you live,” TB Joshua said.
Tsvangirai’s deputy, Thokozani Khupe, said: “It has been 26 years since I first worked with you in 1992. From the trenches of the trade union movement of ZCTU [Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions] to serving as your deputy president in the MDC for the past 12 years, I can truly say you, Mr President, are a true democrat.”
Former ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe said: “We have lost a luminary — an icon. The man did his part. The struggle must continue in his honour. From the labour movement, we have lost a leader whose works always spoke volumes. I wish all players could keep his legacy and continue with the struggle he began.”
Exiled former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo also tweeted: “A people’s hero inspires supporters and challenges detractors to make a better society. As such a hero, Morgan Tsvangirai enabled deeply-divided Zimbabweans to see the link and difference between hard-won independence and democracy, based on free, fair and credible elections. RIP Save (Tsvangirai’s totem).”
Former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere also tweeted: “To live in the hearts of others is never to die. Your memory will forever be in the hearts of Zimbabweans. You fought a good fight, RIP Save.”
Zanu PF MP Psychology Maziwisa tweeted: “Whatever side of the political spectrum one stands on, it is hard to deny that Morgan Tsvangirai has left a lasting and unique imprint on Zimbabwean politics. His bravery and courage and tenacity of purpose did not just make the MDC proud, it amazed all of us as Zimbabweans. RIP!”
Zimbabwe swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry said: “Whether you followed him or not, he had the courage to stand for what he believed in. RIP Morgan Tsvangirai.”
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) described Tsvangirai as a dedicated champion of social justice, human rights, human dignity and democracy not only locally, but even beyond borders whose legacy the people of Zimbabwe should seek to perpetuate.
“Through numerous difficulties, including physical assaults, detention, and imprisonment, Tsvangirai distinguished himself as a tenacious human rights defender in his own right,” ZimRights said.
Opposition Build Zimbabwe Alliance and 2018 presidential hopeful Noah Manyika described Tsvangirai as a selfless leader, who chose to fight when all odds were against him for the betterment of the people.
He said Tsvangirai was the greatest hero of our time, whose achievements could not be dimmed by anyone.
Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume also described Tsvangirai as a man who would be celebrated for confronting head-on “a Nazi-type regime under the leadership of former President Robert Mugabe” and watered a thriving opposition political and democratic space for Zimbabwe.
ZCTU in its condolence message said the former trade unionist was a towering and brave political giant.
“A towering, brave political giant, Comrade Tsvangirai epitomised the ordinary Zimbabweans’ aspirations and desire for democracy, freedom and prosperity . . . Against all odds, the former Premier fought against the Robert Mugabe dictatorship, risking his life in the process. Indeed he was a victim of wanton arrests, beatings and torture at the hands of a brutal dictator,” the trade union’s statement read.
“The ZCTU remembers him as a humble and fatherly character who dedicated his entire life to the service of the working people of Zimbabwe by fighting for justice at the workplace. Many trade unionists of today passed through his able hands to become opinion leaders in the community and the country at large. The current stature of the ZCTU is largely attributed to him.”
Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube said while the nation mourns the passing of a brave compatriot, it was now a moment to reflect and take stock of the nature of our national politics and national discourse.
“Perhaps one of the best ways of remembering Tsvangirai is to say: Never again will our political differences mean that we are mortal enemies as citizens. Instead, our political differences must be seen as a healthy and necessary difference of opinion on the direction and future of our beloved Zimbabwe,” he said.
Ncube appealed to Mnangagwa to help bring the nation together by granting Tsvangirai a hero’s burial at the National Heroes Acre.
“This single gesture, while not a magic wand towards nation building, healing and reconciliation, would certainly go a long way in signalling your commitment to a new era in our national politics. It would also be a strong signal that the national hero status is not a preserve of one political party. It would be a strong signal that the Heroes’ Acre is a place for all Zimbabweans befitting this status.”