Mugove Tafirenyika, Jeffrey Muvundusi and Bridget Mananavire 16
HARARE – Morgan Tsvangirai’s death dominated news bulletins, radio
airwaves and websites throughout the world yesterday as tributes poured in
for a man seen as the most effective opposition leader in Zimbabwe since
The late 65-year-old, who has left a towering legacy, was pronounced dead
on Wednesday in South Africa where he was undergoing cancer treatment.
Mourning his death were legions of supporters around the world, including
British Foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who called the former head of
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions a courageous and determined leader
in the face of oppression and offered his condolences to his family.
“He gave ordinary Zimbabweans faith to believe in the future. He was one
of the bravest political leaders of his time and will be sadly missed,”
The British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing tweeted that Zimbabwe
has suffered a tragic loss.
“Morgan Tsvangirai was a beacon of hope for so many during Zimbabwe’s
darkest days. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,”
EU ambassador Philippe Van Damme said he was “honoured” and “privileged”
to have known Tsvangirai.
“Rest In Peace & let your legacy not be betrayed,” Van Damme said.
Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga – a close Tsvangirai ally – said he
learnt about his friend’s death “with deep sorrow.”
“Morgan dared to dream of democracy, freedom and justice for his country
and his people despite the firm hands of dictatorship that held sway,”
Leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane said
“we will work hard to continue your legacy as a campaigner for a post
liberation movement Africa.”
Around the world, local politics and global affairs were bumped off the
front pages of newspapers, trading rooms were abuzz with the news and
websites saw a surge in traffic.
Respected pro-democracy campaigner Brian Kagoro called Tsvangirai “a man
mountain, a master architect, an expert builder.”
“He turned young men and women into leaders. He gave the great and small
opportunities to lead as equals without condescension. His appeal cut
across class, race and ethnic divisions. He was smeared beyond
recognition, vilified and persecuted and even prosecuted but he remained
gracious. He worked with foe and friend alike, he trusted …perhaps too
much,” Kagoro said.
“He laughed under immense stress and from trade union to political unions,
Morgan was a consummate dealmaker. Save was a bundle of endless energy.
Even in sickness he wanted to continue as the activist leader.
“Mogiza was an inspiration to many. He made many Zimbabweans – including
those within Zanu PF – believe that change is possible.
“Our comrade and icon has played his part on the stage of history with
such profound commitment and distinction.
“Tsvangirai was a trailblazer who cut paths in political forests that many
dared not approach. The many young people standing as independents or
active within other opposition political parties today are a testimony
that his sacrifices were not in vain.
“He was a defiant fighter for freedom who fought autocracy, dictatorship
and cancer to his very last breadth.”
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) said: “Through numerous
difficulties, including physical assaults, detention, and imprisonment,
Tsvangirai distinguished himself as a tenacious human rights defender in
his own right.” The rights group called upon Zimbabweans to honour the
“iconic” Tsvangirai by ensuring that his vision for “a truly human
rights-respecting society, underpinned by a vibrant multiparty democracy”
is taken forward.
Nesbert Mtengezanwa, the president of the United African National Council
(UANC) founded by the first black prime minister of the short-lived
Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, now late, said he was absolutely
devastated at this tragic and unexpected news.
Opposition Zapu led by Dumiso Dabengwa said Tsvangirai will be remembered
for reigniting the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe.
Zapu national spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa applauded Tsvangirai for
presenting a fierce challenge to Zanu PF’s de facto one-party State.
“He will be mostly remembered for his boldness and courage, tackling
Africa’s most ruthless dictatorship and the determination that pushed him
to achieve democracy in Zimbabwe,” Maphosa said.
Matabeleland pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu’s Mbuso Fuzwayo said: “He
played a key role in fighting dictatorship and one-party State mind that
was in former president Mugabe.” Habakkuk Trust’s Dumisani Nkomo said
Tsvangirai was a champion of people’s rights.
Gwanda Residents Association chairperson Maduma Fuzwayo said: “We hope
that on his passing on, the MDC and all other democratic forces will
regroup and redefine the values that Tsvangirai fought for and be able to
forge a truly united force in his memorial at the elections.”
Popular Nigerian preacher TB Joshua said of Tsvangirai’s death: “It is
important to realise that the manner in which a person dies does not
matter; what counts is the life you live.”
Zimbabwean bishop Ancelimo Magaya said: “He will be difficult to replace
and the only way to honour him would for all pro-democratic forces to work
Economist Butler Tambo paid tribute to Tsvangirai for managing to
stabilise the economic situation during the GNU.
He said the GNU “is a period that most Zimbabweans still yearn for as it
brought about economic stability and a semblance of order something that
might not return to the country any time soon if the current economic
order is set to continue unchecked.”
Celebrity and TV personality Vimbai Mutinhiri said: “Ndarwadziwa ini.” (I
“No matter your political affiliation, you have to respect this man!
Morgan Tsvangirai was cut from a different cloth.”
Zimbabwe’s swimming icon Kirsty Coventry said: Whether you followed him or
not, he had the courage to stand for what he believed in. RIP Morgan