HARARE – Parliament has joined Zimbabweans and the rest of the world in mourning the late opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, pictured, who died in South Africa last Wednesday after a long battle with colon cancer.
Before the commencement of parliamentary business in the house on Thursday last week National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda announced Tsvangirai’s death describing it as “untimely”.
“Tsvangirai served Zimbabwe with distinction as an accomplished trade unionist and leader of the opposition for many years as well as being Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Leader of Government business in Parliament between 2009 and 2013,” he said.
“He contributed immensely to Parliament as a member of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders during the same period in pursuit of parliamentary democracy.”
“Parliament offers its unreserved condolences to the family, friends and people of Zimbabwe during this dark moment in our political history,” he said inviting MPs from across the political divide to rise in unison to “observe a minute of silence in honour of the late…Tsvangirai,” Mudenda said.
Tsvangirai’s political foes could also not help but shower praise on the indefatigable former trade unionist, credited with changing the face of opposition politics in Zimbabwe and taking head on long-ruling former president Robert Mugabe.
Later in the day, several Zanu PF MPs joined their counterparts as they made a bee line to Tsvangirai’s Highlands residence to pay their condolences.
The ruling party also paid tribute to Tsvangirai who has been described as “the people’s true hero” and a fighter for democracy and peace as well as other befitting hyperbolical superlatives.
“The President and first secretary of Zanu… Emmerson Mnangagwa, the politburo, central committee and the entire membership of the revolutionary party wish to extend deepest condolences to the Tsvangirai family for the untimely passing on of… Tsvangirai at a hospital in South Africa …,” said Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo.
“The party’s deepest thoughts are with the Tsvangirai family and grieve with them as they mourn their beloved father.
“During the tenure of the inclusive government, Tsvangirai showed considerable efforts towards attainment of the goal of peace”.
While government has offered him a State assisted funeral, Mnangagwa is under pressure to declare Tsvangirai a national hero.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) official Peter Mutasa told the Daily News that as the body that gave birth to the MDC as a labour-backed party they were approaching government with the request. Mutasa described Tsvangirai’s death as a huge loss to the labour body.
“It is a huge loss on our part and we are in a state of shock. There is a general consensus in the country that Tsvangirai is a national hero considering the work he did for the democratisation of Zimbabwe,” Mutasa said.