Tendai Mugabe and Nokutenda Chiyangwa
MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who succumbed to cancer of the colon in South Africa on Wednesday night, has been accorded a State-assisted funeral, President Mnangagwa has said. Speaking on the sidelines of the official opening of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) new headquarters in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said Government would assist in every possible way to ensure a dignified send-off for Mr Tsvangirai.
“We will make him State-assisted funeral,” he said.
“It will be taken by the State. We had him as Prime Minister for a period of five years or so, it’s very important that we as a Government we must pay our respects to one of us.”
Earlier, President Mnangagwa had sent a condolence message to the Tsvangirai family.
He described the former trade unionist as a national figure “who obdurately insisted on free, fair, credible and non-violent elections as a way of strengthening our democracy and our overall re-engagement with the rest of the world”.
Other opposition leaders and organisations also consoled the Tsvangirai family yesterday.
President Mnangagwa expressed his sorrow over the death of Mr Tsvangirai in his condolence message to his family.
“On behalf of the ruling Zanu-PF party, Government, our nation, and that of my family, I wish to express deepest condolences to the Tsvangirai family on the sad passing yesterday (Wednesday) of Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, the former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and leader of the opposition MDC-T party,” he said.
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“A strong trade unionist and opposition leader, the late Tsvangirai will be remembered especially for his readiness to stretch and reach out across the political divide for a Government of a National Unity after the polarising 2008 elections.
“Both in and after the Government of National Unity, he remained a national figure who obdurately insisted on free, fair, credible and non-violent elections as a way of strengthening our democracy and our overall re-engagement with the rest of the world.”
President Mnangagwa continued: “Whatever other controversial decisions he and his MDC-T party may have made in the past, we all remember him for his insistence on free, fair, and peaceful elections which we must validate in the forthcoming 2018 harmonised elections in tribute to him and to our democracy.
“This, we owe him as political leaders of all contesting parties in our country which deserves unfettered peace and stability. As part of building political consensus in the country ahead of the harmonised elections, I shall soon be inviting leaders of all political parties for a day-long consultative meeting.
“Indeed, the ethic overarching collaboration above fair and peaceful contestation must be cultivated and entrenched into our national politics for all times.”
President Mnangagwa said consultations were underway between Government and the Tsvangirai family to determine what the State could do to ensure a befitting send-off for Mr Tsvangirai.
In South Africa, mourners are gathered at the residence of Mr Tsvangirai’s son Edwin in Johannesburg.
Sources said Mr Tsvangirai’s widow Elizabeth Macheka is not at the funeral wake.
The deceased’s former wife Ms Locardia Karimatsenga visited Edwin’s house yesterday and paid her condolences.
Ms Karimatsenga, who now calls herself an Apostle, leads her own church, Nation of Glory Ministries, which is based in South Africa.
Ms Macheka is suspected to have returned to Zimbabwe last week following reports that she was barred from visiting Mr Tsvangirai on his hospital bed by his relatives.
Advocate Nelson Chamisa, who was named by MDC-T as the interim president yesterday, told a Press conference that they had lost a champion for democracy.
“President Morgan Tsvangirai was a champion of the workers’ struggle, a doyen of democracy, a diplomat and a statesman — all rolled into one,” he said.
“Zimbabwe, Africa and indeed the world will always remember yesterday 14 February 2018 as a black Wednesday.”
MDC-T deputy president Engineer Elias Mudzuri, who is also fighting for the party presidency, yesterday said: “Tonight I paid my condolences to the late president’s family at his Highlands home. The Tsvangirai family together with us, is finding it difficult to come to terms with the passing on of our iconic democratic leader. May his soul rest in peace.”
MDC-T deputy national chairman Mr Morgan Komichi said: “The party, the people of Zimbabwe feel strongly that president Tsvangirai is a national hero, he has been declared a national hero. We have as a party suspended all party programmes until after the burial of our president.
“We have also set a committee of the leadership that will liaise with the family on matters of the funeral.”
MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube said in a statement: “We have lost a brother, a leader, an icon, a man of the people. As we mourn his passing, we also celebrate his extraordinary life of courage, humility and service to the working people of our beloved country.
“Without doubt, the country has lost one of the most iconic, distinguished and charismatic leaders of our time. We are truly the poorer without him.”
The European Union Delegation in Zimbabwe consoled the Tsvangirai family in a statement yesterday, describing him as a courageous trade unionist and politician.
“He will be remembered as a great trade unionist and a courageous man who, as president of the Movement for Democratic Change since its foundation in 1999, stood up for multi-party democracy and justice,” said the EU.
“The EU offers its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the former Prime Minister in these difficult times.”