HARARE – With soaring freedom songs and poignant memories, tens of
thousands of mourners yesterday paid tribute to opposition leader and
freedom icon Morgan Tsvangirai at an emotional farewell in Harare, with
ordinary Zimbabweans making up the majority of the crowd at a popular
square just outside the central business district.
From early in the morning, there was a sea of supporters adorned in the
MDC’s red party colours who snaked their way from Harvest House – the
party headquarters in central Harare – singing “Chikara cheZanu, ndiwe
(Zanu’s monster is you.) Morgan.”
As the Doves Morgan funeral cortege approached the Robert Gabriel Mugabe
Square, an area adjacent the Rainbow Towers Hotel which the opposition MDC
supporters prefer to call Freedom Square, his legion of supporters broke
into song, exalting their departed leader.
The casket carrying Tsvangirai’s body was driven slowly to the venue of
the requiem service, with some mourners who arrived around 9am waiting for
four hours for the arrival of their hero.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans lined the streets of Harare to see-off
When Amos Chibaya, the party’s deputy organising secretary and Mkoba MP
began proceedings as the Master of Ceremonies, many wept openly – but the
sombre atmosphere was punctuated with cheers as the crowd celebrated when
family representatives read out Tsvangirai’s life history.
There was silence and weeping when a eulogy was read, in which Tsvangirai
was described as a fearless and God-fearing person, who was resolute in
Deepening divisions in the MDC executive were put aside as top members
united to give Tsvangirai a dignified send-off.
Acting MDC president Nelson Chamisa brought some in the crowd to tears
when he paid tribute to the man who mounted the fiercest challenge to Zanu
PF rule and led the opposition MDC since its formation in 1999 and died
while prosecuting his struggle to free Zimbabwe.
Chamisa attracted wild applause from the crowd as he delivered his
electrifying speech, emphasising the need for the opposition party to
carry on with Tsvangirai’s vision.
He said his words were too frail to carry the burden of the party’s grief.
“We initially looked down upon him saying what degree do you have, only to
later realise that while he did not hold an academic degree then, he had a
degree in leadership. That is why for the 18 years he led us, some of us
never questioned his leadership. We simply followed, we never asked why.
“But when you see a leader being followed by professors such as (Welshman)
Ncube, academic doctors such as (vice president Thokozani) Khupe and
engineers such as (vice president Elias) Mudzuri, that tells you that
Tsvangirai is the professor, chibaba chenyuchi (he is a great man).
“The beauty of it all, however, is that he gave us his vision, I have his
vision, he gave it to us. We are going to Buhera to bury him but we are
not going to bury his ideas,” Chamisa said.
Turning to the leadership wrangle that has engulfed the MDC since the
former prime minister’s death, Chamisa pledged to have it resolved to
“fulfill Tsvangirai’s vision.”
He said when Tsvangirai appointed him and Mudzuri as co-vice presidents,
the MDC leader was planning his succession.
“Some people did not know that when he appointed us VPs, he had his game
plan. He told me that we must work to keep the party together and he told
me that he wanted to go to India and that I was supposed to lead his
“This was said in front of (Tsvangirai’s brother) Manase and (Tsvangirai’s
uncle) Sekuru Zvaipa that the MDC Alliance was a necessity, so those who
are talking about the possibility of a split must calm down because this
is not anyone’s party but the people’s.
“If you don’t follow what the people want, they will reject you,” Chamisa,
who was elected by the National Council last week to lead the party for
the next 12 months, said. Chamisa also poured scorn on President Emmerson
Mnangagwa’s refusal to recognise Tsvangirai as a national hero.
A day earlier, Mnangagwa visited Tsvangirai’s family to offer condolences
ahead of yesterday service.
“Let us all be brothers and sisters, and come together and mourn our
former prime minister.
“When we write the history of this country, we cannot leave out the
participation and role that the former prime minister played in the effort
to entrench democratic values in this country,” Mnangagwa said at
Chamisa said MDC supporters were not convinced that Mnangagwa – whose
government offered Tsvangirai a State-assisted funeral – was genuine in
“We are very sceptical because they did not recognise his work while he
was alive. They vilified him and they tortured our president, so now we
get surprised when they offer to fly his body in a helicopter to Buhera
when he never used it during his lifetime,” Chamisa said.
Tsvangirai’s body was airlifted just after the Harare farewell to
Humanikwa Village in Buhera in an Agusta 412 bell helicopter.
He will be buried this afternoon.
Chamisa alleged Mnangagwa – who has previously been accused of
co-ordinating State intimidation of the opposition – was warming up
opportunistically to Tsvangirai.
“If the family says so, we cannot help it but follow what they want but as
a party, that is our issue because we know that he (Mnangagwa) is shedding
“Kunyangwe hako uri ngwena, usachema misodzi yengwena, chemawo misodzi
yevanhu (Even if we know that you are nicknamed Crocodile, do not shed
“We will face each other very soon so that we settle it because we are
also plotting against you. We must fight it out and see who wins. We are
ready to roar in 2018 and this is the best tribute we can give to
Tsvangirai,” Chamisa said.
Tsvangirai’s sons Edwin and Richard called on the MDC members to protect
their father’s legacy through unity and non-violent polls.
Zambian Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Nkole Chishimba – a
longtime ally of Tsvangirai – said he was saddened the MDC leader’s
Chishimba described Tsvangirai as a selfless leader who gave away his
presidency to Mugabe for the sake of the country “because he said he did
not mind losing 2013 elections as long as my actions are for the good of
“I came very far with Tsvangirai and we did a lot of good and bad things
together,” Chishimba said.
“I came here at one point and travelled with him to Guruve and I had his
posters in my car. I was not searched because I had a diplomatic passport.
Then Chamisa was a young boy who had just been expelled from college, now
he is president.
“I did not come with condolences for Tsvangirai; I have come to celebrate
his life. Morgan was mistreated by this government. I asked him how do you
sleep with the devil, but he said to me he was getting into the inclusive
government for the people,” he said.
The farewell rally was also attended by Zambian Civil Affairs minister
Aaron Miller, MDC Alliance leaders, Zimbabwe’s former deputy Health and
Child Care minister Paul Chimedza, former Energy minister and opposition
leader Elton Mangoma, who leads the Coalition of Democrats (Code),
National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku, International
Socialist Organisation (ISO) leader and founding MDC member Munyaradzi
Gwisai and civil society leaders.
Just after the ceremony, Chamisa received one of Tsvangirai’s best
friends, Kenya opposition leader Raila Odinga at the Robert Mugabe
International Airport. Odinga is at the centre of controversy in Kenya
after he declared himself the “people’s president” at a controversial
“swearing-in” ceremony in the capital Nairobi three weeks ago.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had been sworn in for a second term last November
after “winning” an election re-run in October, boycotted by Odinga.
Elections were first held in August but the courts ordered a re-run,
saying Kenyatta’s victory was marred by irregularities.
A son of Kenya’s first vice president, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, last year’s
unsuccessful bid for the presidency, was Odinga’s fourth. If he had lived,
Tsvangirai’s bid for the 2018 elections would also have been his fourth.
Chamisa told the Daily News late yesterday he was accompanying Odinga to
Humanikwa Village, together with the top leadership of the MDC, for