THE late MDC-T leader and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who died at a South African hospital on Wednesday after losing a two-year battle with colon cancer, will be laid to rest in Buhera on Monday, party secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora said yesterday.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/SILAS NKALA
Mwonzora told NewsDay Weekender, in an interview, that Tsvangirai’s body was expected this weekend, with the possibility of a mass funeral in Harare before the revered opposition leader is taken to his final resting place in Humanikwa village of Buhera.
“Vice-president Khupe is in South Africa, as we speak, to make arrangements for the repatriation of the president’s body. They should arrive home either tonight (last night or early today),” he said.
“Given president Tsvangirai’s stature, we would have wanted to take him to every town in Zimbabwe. He is the people’s president, a man of the people, but it will be a logistical nightmare, given the different stakeholders involved including the State. However, we are going to have a mass funeral wake for him in Harare on Sunday, but we are still trying to make a decision on the venue. It will either be Rufaro Stadium, National Sports Stadium or Freedom Square (space behind Rainbow Towers in Harare.”
Mwonzora said burial would be on Monday in Buhera.
In a thinly-veiled attack on Chamisa, Khupe, while paying tribute to Tsvangirai, issued a stinging statement on arrival in Johannesburg, distancing the MDC-T from what she described as “cheap politics” by some leaders since the MDC-T leader’s death.
“May I state on good authority that the family and, indeed, the majority of the party leadership, stand distanced from any and all of the disturbing cheap politics we have witnessed since the passing-on of president Tsvangirai,” she said.
The only one of the three MDC-T vice-presidents elected at congress in 2014, Khupe apologised for the “unAfrican” acts by “misguided comrades”.
“As a deputy president, who unanimously received her mandate to serve as president Tsvangirai’s second-in-charge at our 2014 MDC-T national congress, I would have failed in my duty and in reverence of his memory if I did not call to order the misguided comrades behind these unAfrican, uncultured and barbaric chain of events that have sought to draw attention away from the tragic loss to our party and country.
“I profusely apologise to all who may have been offended by the uncharacteristic representation of our party at such a time as this, and wish to assure the nation that MDC-T is guided by a constitution that was born in a Zimbabwean cultural context of ubuntu/hunhu — that sacred age-old code of self-dignity and respect for the departed,” the former Deputy Prime Minister said.
Chamisa forced through his appointment as acting party leader hours after Tsvangirai died.
According to Mwonzora, senior MDC-T leaders on Wednesday night had agreed it would be prudent to cancel pre-arranged national executive and national council meetings following the death of the party’s founding father.
“We met and agreed that it would not be prudent to go ahead with normal party business in the face of such an abnormality. But after a while, vice-president Chamisa came back and insisted the meetings should go ahead to formally inform party organs of the death our president and the logistics for the funeral,” he said.
“We agreed to this compromise, but then when the national executive meeting began, there were questions on who would act as president and a resolution was passed to the effect that Chamisa would act for the period of the funeral to receive dignitaries and other ceremonial issues to avoid confusion.”
However, a stormy meeting of party members, sitting as a national council, forced changes to this resolution to give Chamisa power to act as president for a year.
MDC-T national organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe, who is currently in Turkey on business, told NewsDay Weekender yesterday that Chamisa was offside in imposing himself as leader of the opposition party when people were still mourning Tsvangirai.
He said Chamisa’s appointment as interim leader was “illegal and selfish”.
“I agree with Khupe that cultural values and norms do not allow what these guys did. African culture across all tribes is uniform. Morally, it’s completely out of order. It smells the (former President Robert) Mugabe way of doing things,” Bhebhe said.
“We are saying to the supporters, let’s wait for the burial of our leader and thereafter, we will work on correcting all that has been done wrong.”
He claimed that a Chamisa ally confided in him that they were misled by the Kuwadzana East MP into an “illegality”