By Everson Mushava
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday came to the rescue of his rival MDC-T president Thokozani Khupe and Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda after they were booed by party supporters at the send-off funeral service for the late Glen View South MP Vimbai Tsvangirai-Java in Harare yesterday.
Vimbai, who on Monday succumbed to injuries sustained in an accident outside Kwekwe on May 14, was buried at the Glen Forest Cemetery in the capital.
Her body was taken to City Sports Centre before being taken for burial where thousands came to bid farewell to the daughter of the late founding MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Khupe, a former Tsvangirai deputy, was first booed when she stepped into the City Sports Centre and later when her presence was recognised, while Mudenda’s crime was to mention President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s name in his eulogies.
Mudenda was forced to quietly stand behind the microphone for close to five minutes amid booing, forcing Chamisa to step up to manage the situation before he continued with his candid speech, which was later appreciated by the opposition supporters.
Chamisa gave the party supporters some tongue-lashing, saying if they indeed, believe he was their leader, they should stop heckling Khupe and Mudenda at a funeral.
The youthful leader described Vimbai as an all-inclusive person and urged the party supporters to honour her by embracing anyone who had come to grieve with them.
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“I am not happy with what you did to Advocate Mudenda and Dr Khupe. I don’t want to hear anything like that again,” Chamisa said.
“Vimbai was an inclusive person and we expect you to do the same. This is a funeral. Dr Khupe worked for the country and the party with Tsvangirai and Vimbai.”
Chamisa then chided the party supporters for failing to respect the institution of Parliament, which was represented by Mudenda, before assuring the Speaker of peace and freedom to say whatever he wanted to say.
“Honourable Sir, you have the peace of the place, the freedom of the environment, to utter what you may wish, including repeating the name of President Mnangagwa, who is the president of Zanu PF,” Chamisa said to wild cheers.
Khupe and Chamisa acrimoniously parted ways last year following a dispute on who should take over after the death of Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai’s deputy of 10 years was forced to go it alone during last year’s elections, where Chamisa narrowly lost to Mnangagwa.
Chamisa has, however, refused to accept the outcome that was endorsed by the Constitutional Court, demanding dialogue, which he insists should be anchored on the country’s legitimacy question, a demand flatly rejected by Zanu PF.
Mudenda, Chamisa said, was a unifier who believed in Zimbabwe. He said a country is run by accommodating divergent views.
“With Dr Khupe, we had our problems, but she is our comrade, I honour you, Dr Khupe. We should learn to acknowledge and respect others. We still have the Speaker of Parliament we should respect, we still have the generals in the army we should respect. If you fail to respect others when you are still in opposition, when you take over government, there will be gnashing of teeth,” the MDC leader said.
“We need tolerance. Dr Khupe, once more I salute you. You were my deputy Prime Minster when I was a minister. You were a vice-president when I was organising secretary. There might be some problems, but that won’t change. I have always said we will meet, and we have met today at Vimbai’s funeral.”
In his address, Mudenda described Vimbai as a humble person, a selfless leader who emulated his father’s leadership attributes, who accepted to join the inclusive government for the benefit of the people and helped stabilise things during the five years he was in government.
He also called for unity for the country to move forward and urged all people to copy from Tsvangirai whose leadership was not self-centred.