Mnangagwa, Khupe for Tsvangirai memorial

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe have been officially invited to the memorial of the late former Prime Minister and MDC founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, it has been learnt.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

Tsvangirai died on Valentines’ Day this year and his memorial service has been set on the same date next year.

The death of the former Prime Minister and longtime opposition leader triggered a violent internecine power struggle pitting his deputies Khupe, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri. But Chamisa, a 40-year-old lawyer, outwitted his competitors and took power, forcing Mudzuri into capitulation and Khupe to break away while maintaining the MDC-T name.

Tsvangirai’s younger brother, Manasa, confirmed invitations were being extended to the government, all political parties and civil society organisations.

“The idea of having the family leading the process is to make sure nobody tries to hijack the programme to get mileage. We want to avoid the chaos that characterised the funeral. A lot of people did not get the chance to mourn Tsvangirai, and we want to avoid that scenario,” he said.

“We have written to the government, officially inviting the President [Mnangagwa] and its true we have invited Khupe and all other political formations, as well as civil society organisations. This is going to be a big programme and everyone is invited.”

Manasa said Tsvangirai’s stature as a democracy campaigner set him not only as a national, but international figure.

“Here is a man who was willing to forgo his personal wishes for the good of the country. That is leadership, and we should open up his memorial to all. He united the country around the cause of the motherland. That was Morgan for you, and all are invited.

“We have gone out of our way to make sure that the security of all is assured,” Manasa told NewsDay yesterday.

MDC-T deputy president Obert Gutu took to social media, using his Twitter handle to announce his party had accepted the invite.
Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba said the President was on leave.

“I am not aware of the communication. This is between the President and the former Prime Minister’s family. Mind you, this is a holiday, and the President has started his annual leave. He will be back in January,” Charamba said.

Chaos rocked Tsvangirai’s funeral wake, leading to violent clashes, including an alleged attempt to torch a hut in which Khupe and party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora had sought refuge.

Chamisa announced he had set-up a board of inquiry into the violence, including skirmishes that followed in Bulawayo at the height of the power struggles. While the inquiry’s findings were not made public, the party announced a number of youths linked to the violence had been expelled.

MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume referred questions to the family, but added his party respected diversity of opinion.

“The MDC has never sought to harm Madam Khupe at any point or any event, whether we are present or not. We are a peaceful and democratic party and are aware that any person in Zimbabwe can form a political party of their choice,” Mafume said.

Asked if the party had any elaborate plans to guard against a recurrence of the chaos that characterised the funeral, Mafume said it was up to the family.

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