. . . Zim embassy instructed to assist family
Takunda Maodza and Daniel Nemukuyu
GOVERNMENT has instructed the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria to assist the Tsvangirai family in any way appropriate, including meeting expenses attendant to the handling of the body of the now deceased, pending decisions to be made later.
Speaking in the wake of the sad demise of the veteran opposition MDC-T leader last night, Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba said Government — which had been footing Mr Tsvangirai’s medical bills — was aware of and seized with the tragedy.
‘‘The leadership is now aware of the sad passing on of VaTsvangirai. In the interim, while the family is taking the necessary decisions, the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria has been instructed to help in any way appropriate in the circumstances including assuming the costs that are attendant to the proper handling of the body of the late,’’ Mr Charamba, who is also Presidential spokesman, said.
Mr Tsvangirai succumbed to cancer of the colon at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg at around 5pm yesterday.
He was 65.
President Mnangagwa and Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired) visited Mr Tsvangirai at his Highlands home on January 5 where they talked for close to 45 minutes.
Mr Tsvangirai revealed he had cancer of the colon on June 27, 2016.
He told reporters at a Press conference at his home in Harare then: “On the 8th of May, 2016, my Zimbabwean doctors referred me to South Africa where a further diagnosis revealed that I am suffering from cancer of the colon. Following the diagnosis last month, I underwent an operation last month that was successful. However, a diagnosis of cancer is the first of several medical procedures that include treatment through chemotherapy, which treatment I began this week.
“As a leader and public figure, I have taken a decision to make public my condition. It is my firm belief that the health of national leaders, including politicians should not be a subject of national speculation and uncertainty.”
Mr Tsvangirai vowed to fight the disease, telling reporters that: “This health condition is unfortunate, but can be faced by anyone. I intend to confront this development with the determination to overcome it.”
Cancer has become the second deadly disease in Zimbabwe after HIV and Aids, with statistics showing a surge in the number of people who succumb to the ailment annually.
Last night, National Constitutional Assembly leader Professor Lovemore Madhuku mourned the death of Mr Tsvangirai, saying: “Although we were seeing it coming, it is devastating and saddening. He was the founder of the post-independence democratic movement focusing on genuine social justice. I can confirm that without him, we would never have been able to establish the kind of opposition party that made our country a multi-party democracy.
“We will certainly miss his commitment to uplifting lives of the majority of our people.
“Morgan Tsvangirai is an icon for those of us who belong to the other side.
“The best way of remembering him is to continue to build a credible, independent and vigorous opposition movement. I must also add that he remained one of the few people that were with us at the founding table of the MDC in 1999.”
Former advisor to Mr Tsvangirai during the tenure of a coalition Government between Zanu-PF and the MDC formations, Dr Alex Magaisa tweeted his condolences last night saying: “It is a dark day. Morgan Tsvangirai lost his brave battle with cancer this evening. The heart breaks with pain.
“It was a rare privilege and an honour to have the confidence of this icon of the democratic struggle. My thoughts are with his family.”
Norton legislator Mr Temba Mliswa expressed shock at the death of Mr Tsvangirai last night.
“Although he has been unwell we are in shock at the passing of Tsvangirai, a true democrat who fearlessly stood up to the Mugabe regime and was an inspiration to many. Although we may have differed politically, I held a deep respect for Morgan Tsvangirai. My condolences to his family.”
MDC leader Welshman Ncube, who once worked with Mr Tsvangirai as secretary general before the first MDC split, described the death of the former trade unionist as a huge loss.
“It is a huge loss. We are devastated by the death. It was untimely and came at a time when we had unanimously agreed that Morgan Tsvangirai would lead MDC Alliance in the coming elections,” he said.
Mr Tsvangirai’s illness had of late caused serious power struggles within the MDC-T pitting co-vice presidents Advocate Nelson Chamisa against Eng Mudzuri.
The fierce battle was on who succeeds Mr Tsvangirai – a move that riled the opposition leader’s family – who felt party vultures were more concerned with position of authority than seeing the politician survive the deadly disease.
On Tuesday Adv Chamisa held a Standing Committee meeting as the MDC-T acting president.
Eng Mudzuri was set to hold his yesterday but was barred from Harvest House by forces reportedly loyal to Adv Chamisa.