BY OBEY MANAYITI
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is bankrolling the memorial service of the late former Zimbabwe Prime Minister and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, which is being held at his Buhera home today, NewsDay Weekender has gathered.
Tsvangirai’s family yesterday paid tribute to Mnangagwa, saying his government had stood with the family even from the days when he was ill.
The former trade unionist, who died last year after battling with cancer of the colon for two years and was accorded a State-assisted funeral, rose to international prominence, first as
the secretary-general of a militant Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and later as leader of the MDC, which has provided the sternest challenge to Zanu PF hegemony in local politics
He was arrested and tortured countless times under the regime of former President Robert Mugabe, who was overthrown in a November 2017 coup, paving way for Mnangagwa.
In an interview yesterday, Tsvangirai’s brother and family spokesperson, Manase, said they were grateful for the gesture by the government.
“As a family, we want to thank the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa for the support. Had it not been for them, we don’t know how we were going to manage,” he said.
“They helped us since the time when Tsvangirai was ill by paying hospital bills. When he died, they assisted us with repatriating the body and getting air tickets for the family members
who were outside the country, and food at the funeral.
“Now, government is saying it is committed to feed the 5 000 people that are expected to attend the memorial. They are providing food, water, mobile toilets and other things. Otherwise,
as a family, it was going to be very difficult to manage.”
Yesterday, Manase said government had also provided equipment to repair roads leading to the homestead.
He also paid tribute to some individual MDC party members who contributed towards Tsvangirai’s tombstone.
He said they approached the MDC and were told that there were limited resources, but there were individual party members who decided to pool their resources together for the
Manase said it was all systems go for the memorial and all logistical arrangements were in place.
“This is a very big day. We expect people to be disciplined and peaceful. If they say Tsvangirai was an icon, then we don’t expect them to be indisciplined,” he said.
Manase also thanked MDC leader Nelson Chamisa for his assistance and desire to see a successful memorial for the late Prime Minister.
Chaos reigned during the burial of Tsvangirai last year after rival MDC factions turned on each other because of fights over who would succeed the late founding leader of the party.
“We would like to thank Chamisa for actually cautioning renegades that he would not tolerate rogue behaviour by those who may want to cause problems. He assured us that security would
be guaranteed. He has pre-warned some party members over behaviour unbefitting of the icon Tsvangirai,” Manase said.
A few weeks before the death of Tsvangirai, Mnangagwa made a surprise visit to the former Premier’s Highlands home, where he also pledged assistance.