via Mugabe mum on Mandela’s death, MDC offers condolences | BDlive by Ray Ndlovu DECEMBER 06 2013
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s office had yet to issue an official statement on Friday on the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday evening at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, at the age of 95.
Zanu (PF) spokesman Rugare Gumbo was by Friday afternoon the only senior member of Zimbabwe’s ruling party that commented on Mandela’s death. Mr Gumbo described Mandela’s death as a loss to the continent’s ideals of liberation and to the rest world.
In contrast, the country’s largest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), was vocal in its praise for Mandela, with leader Morgan Tsvangirai describing his death as “shattering and a great loss”.
In his condolence message, Mr Tsvangirai praised Mandela for being a great inspiration to humanity.
“Madiba passed the endurance test and sent a great lesson that the predicament of an individual is subordinate to the cause of a people,” Mr Tsvangirai said.
“That a man could spend 27 years in prison and still maintain his humility and capacity to forgive is enough testimony to the greatness of the man the world has lost today,” he said.
“I also visited his (prison) cell at Robben Island and was inspired by the life of a great man, who endured so much but had no bitterness and vengeance after so much pain. Africa should continue to produce more Mandelas who think more about the people than personal power; for whom the people’s welfare is more important than the selfish pursuit of personal power and glory,” he said.
The MDC-T leader recounted having met Mandela once — without disclosing the date and venue of their meeting — and having lobbied him to intervene in the tense political situation in Zimbabwe. “I met him once and we had a frank exchange on the situation in Zimbabwe. He told me that the country had taken a wrong turn and that Mr Mugabe had led the nation to the brink of political and economic turmoil, and that he would personally do all he could to persuade the Zimbabwean leadership to see sense,” said Mr Tsvangirai.
“Unfortunately, his health deteriorated and now he has died, with the Zimbabwean crisis taking a turn for the worst and with the country saddled with a legitimacy crisis arising out of yet another stolen election,” he said.
In an interview earlier this year, Mr Mugabe described Mandela’s stance on land ownership as being “soft” — a comment that raised eyebrows on whether the two African leaders had a secret falling out.
“Britain will praise you only if you are doing things that please them. Mandela has gone a bit too far in doing good to the nonblack communities, really in some cases at the expense of blacks,” Mr Mugabe said in the interview with People of the South’s Dali Tambo, broadcast by the SABC.
“That’s being too saintly, too good, too much of a saint,” he said.