The eulogies that were directed at the late MDC-T leader and former Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai whose white casket stood like a colossus in a white minivan culminated in the moniker-Father of Democracy.
By John Mokwetsi
A sea of supporters clad in red garb, red being the official party colour, converged at the Freedom square to pay their last respect in song and dance in honour of the man they said was always ready to listen to the voice of those who never had the ear of the government.
Amidst the chants, vendors made a killing from selling spray-painted whistles, party regalia and red flags. MDC alliance acting President Nelson Chamisa waved at the crowd amid cheers and songs dedicatory to his name.
In the meantime Vice President and former deputy Prime Minister, Khokozani Khupe sat beside Chamisa but not at once did she look at him. Another VP Elias Mudzuri who buried his eyes behind dark glasses was motionless neither participating in slogans nor following the crowd in clapping.
Perhaps the gripe was that when the two were introduced there were roundly booed as theinternal power scrap knowing at the opposition party reared its ugly head threatening to tear the movement apart. The MDC-T is badly in need of Tsvangirai glue that binds it together even before he has been buried.
Even when MDC-T organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe who was the compare, said he was now going to introduce the VPs but was only allowing Chamisa to speak for want of time, Khupe gave him a stern warning in muffled words. That was the only time she spoke.
When Chamisa stood to give a speech, Khupe-clad in an African attire and like Mudzuri hiding her eyes behind dark glasses- tilted her head to look away for the duration of the speech and even when the youthful leader referred to her as one of the founder members of the party she was standoffish.
Chamisa, fast becoming an orator took to the podium like a seasoned politician; he paused for effect before pointing to Tsvangirai’s casket and then he said the late has ordained him to lead the alliance amid cheers.
“Tsvangirai has always said he wanted generational leadership. When he appointed me VP he knew what he was doing. This is our time and the party must be united. Leaders must remember that those who appointed them can remove them. We must respect the wishes of this Father of democracy,” he said to robust applause.
Mindful of the leadership question, Chamisa mentioned the word youth about five times in his 15 minute speech. All the time he had memorised dates in which he recounted Tsvangirai’s last words on unity and most importantly that the dying man had given him the mantle of the party.
He had willing cheerleaders.
Speaker after speaker had emphasised about the party’s need to avoid self-destruction.
And then there was the issue of the helicopter carrying Tsvangirai to his Buhera homestead.
“It is dishearting, Chamisa echoed the sentiments earlier expressed by other speakers. “We have given Tsvangirai an official helicopter to fly in now that he is dead. I am very skeptical of this. We never honoured him like this before. Yes, we thank the government now but we do not what crocodile tears. People should have human tears.”
With that Chamisa thanked Tsvangirai’s mother who never left the hearse to mixed reactions from people who have made the caricature of her via memes on social media in the aftermath of her public threats to commit suicide if Chamisa and Tsvangirai’s widow Elizabeth who was largely ignored were allowed at the funeral.
As Chamisa left the podium he was mobbed by Deputy national chairman of MDC-T, Morgen Komichi and Mudzuri extended his hand but Khupe stood up to walk away.
As the hearse slowly reversed Tsvangirai’s supporters waved at it to close a chapter of the man who started humbly as a tea boy.