MASVINGO — Her voice, her looks and all mannerism are just Morgan Richard Tsvangirai’s.
BY MATTHEW TAKAONA
Her giggles that echo away and now her direct involvement in politics makes 35-year-old Vimbayi Tsvangirai-Java a chip off the old block.
When the MDC-T led by Nelson Chamisa settled on her as the party’s parliamentary candidate for Glen View constituency in Harare, many thought that this was just a gesture to acknowledge the Tsvangirai family for the crucial role it played in the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe.
Far from it!
Vimbai, who is married to cleric Batsiranai Java of the 13-year-old Tabernacle of Grace Church, has been in politics from the time of the formation of the opposition MDC in 1999.
She has been her father’s right-hand person from the family side.
She is the only sibling who was with Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe when the rest stayed abroad.
Being one of the members of the “infamous” so-called kitchen cabinet, Tsvangirai-Java is probably the only person with the key to her father’s deepest secrets.
Together with her six siblings, she went into exile in South Africa, Australia and Canada when the threat to their lives became real during the reign of former President Robert Mugabe.
She left for Australia, where she joined the University of New Castle and did a Bachelor of Development Studies, Urban and Regional Planning.
Her departure for the exile did not stop her participation in politics, as she became heavily involved in the mobilisation of resources for MDC-T.
She returned to Zimbabwe in 2009 and worked in the background alongside her father since then.
“The kitchen cabinet was so-called because it was suspected to involve close family members who were thought to have a lot of influence on Morgan. I was one of the suspected members of that kitchen cabinet, which some branded as notorious, particularly in 2009,” Tsvangirai-Java said with a chuckle.
She said that she travelled a lot with her father and did his tasks to do with politics.
Contrary to public perception, Vimbayi’s mother, Susan Mhundwa Tsvangirai, was also heavily involved with party work.
She was a mobiliser and her favourite constituency was Glen View, where she was instrumental in the formation of party structures.
Susan was an arbiter in the party resolving conflicts that arose.
“Many people think that Glen View was chosen as a safe seat for me. This is not true. I went into that constituency because that is where my mother worked hardest and she loved it. I am continuing with her work,” Tsvangirai-Java said.
She is among the 63 MDC Alliance parliamentary candidates who won the just-ended elections against all odds.
Tsvangirai-Java is the third child and first daughter of Morgan. She said she had the blessings of all her five siblings for her work in politics and, in particular, Edwin, who is Tsvangirai’s first born, who has been urging her on.
All siblings except Tsvangirai-Java are staying abroad.
Edwin is a quantity surveyor and he is living in South Africa. Garikai, who is the second born, is in Canada.
Rumbidzi, who comes after Tsvangirai-Java, is in Australia, together with the last two siblings, Vincent and Millicent, who are twins.
Tsvangirai-Java was born on July 25, 1983 in Bindura, where her father worked at Trojan Mine.
She went to Haig Park Primary School, Vainona and Mabelreign Girls High in Harare and New Castle University in Australia.
Her husband, Java, leads the Tabernacle Church, which is headquartered in Harare and has branches in several towns in the country.