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Morgan Tsvangirai: Saluting a Doyen of Democracy

Harare – Death agonisingly pronounces itself – always destined to pluck both the loved, loathed – leaving a trail of anguish partnered with ...

Harare – Death agonisingly pronounces itself – always destined to pluck both the loved, loathed – leaving a trail of anguish partnered with regrets – as it declares an eternal ability.

On 14 February 2018 – a day elected for love – Morgan Richard Tsvangirai – the adored leader within Zimbabwe’s political ranks, saluted the world goodbye in a South African hospital, concluding an eminent political career.

By @Comic24Derick

In his entire 18-year tenure as Zimbabwe’s opposition political protagonist – unleashing a protracted bid to emancipate the country from the firm grip of the ruling Zanu-PF party under ousted leader Robert Mugabe – Tsvangirai attracted fame, rebuke – sometimes arousing debate in his 65-year lifespan.

Since 1980 – Harare had known a solo leader, while opposition players in the form of Edgar Tekere, Ndabaningi Sithole, Abel Muzorewa and alike syndicates – were too weak, infiltrated, or presented as counterfeit alternatives.

These options often crumbled – only to resurrect during voting and convincingly trampled by the ruling party – aided by partisan laws and security agents among other selective mechanisms designed to wane any opposing views.

Tsvangirai’s roaring appearance on mainstream politics from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) in 1999, via the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) ticket, would trigger lasting shivers within the ruling establishment, shifting political influence – thereby disturbing the comfort plus token contest enjoyed by Zanu-PF since independence in 1980.

Mugabe’s perpetual public censure of Tsvangirai’s political support base and threat – coming in the backdrop of Zambia’s Fredrick Chiluba rise in comparable fashion – would boomerang to haunt Mugabe and his party.
The Late MDC Leader, Morgan Tsvangirai 
The MDC's entrance into the political landscape was reinforced by their successful campaign against the 2000 referendum. 

The ‘no’ vote triumph jolted Zanu-PF into a panic mode – leading to a violent orgy in ensuing general elections – widely believed to have tilted in MDC’s favour, but allegedly manipulated the state, giving rise to rebuke mantras targeting Tsvangirai as a: ‘Sellout, British-sponsored, Tea Boy’ etc.

Save (Tsvangirai’s totem) – to his legion of admirers would experience state brutality firsthand. Armed police details ambushed him during a march in Harare, cruelly mugging him, while Mugabe responded saying, ‘the police would crash any opposing voices.’ 

The death noose dangled precariously over his head, alongside other accusations. On such occasions, family support became a requisite.

Love abounds
Susan Tsvangirai was seldom in the frontline – but she was a pillar to her husband – Morgan – in moments of pain, persecution in pursuit of a national dream – until she died in a car accident. Her departure signaled the dearth of motherly affection to those who encountered her – including me.

Back in 2006, I was a visitor to their Strathaven residence – courtesy of Edwin – their first born – a boyhood colleague. During a traditional dinner, we chatted on diverse topics. Later on, my initial face-to-face encounter with Tsvangirai became a reality. Though I had seen him in sporadic episodes, this instance was more personal.

“How are you going to fend for these children in such a challenging economic environment,” Tsvangirai quizzed me, oozing a parental tone, after a brief dialogue.

Although he was a political icon, he exuded a fatherly demeanor throughout the conversation. That night, I departed with goodies for my new born child – with his words still stuck into my ears.

Gloomy chapter
The death of Susan foreshowed a contentious chapter in the trade unionist’s life. His second – and third marriages respectively, became contentious. The two nuptials were in-between allegedly disputed nocturnal affairs with other anonymous female characters, while some were convinced they were setups by state intelligence operatives.

Despite the storms, flaws and flows, Save remained a darling – even beyond the borders of Zimbabwe – often supported by hordes of devotees backing him, even when the cancer disease took a toll on his health.

River of hope
Save – Tsvangirai’s totem is connected to a perennial river, bearing a parallel name, flowing in his village of Buhera. Just like a rolling river – he was a source of inspiration – tendering hope in a hopeless era. For years, Tsvangirai remained loyal to his original pledge to usher the nation into prosperity.

His popularity, buttressed by modest policies, was intercepted with joy and honest ululation wherever he appeared – provided the state apparatus temporarily loosened its lifetime embargo on his whereabouts. 

The daring leader’s bold political character was testified by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in a befitting eulogy to the iconic leader.

“A strong trade unionist and opposition leader, the late Tsvangirai will be remembered especially for his readiness to stretch and reach out across the political divide for a Government of National Unity (GNU) after the polarising 2008 elections.

“Both in and after the GNU, he remained a national figure who obdurately insisted on free, fair, credible and non-violent elections as a way of strengthening our democracy and our overall re-engagement with the rest of the world,” Mnangagwa attested.

May your dear soul rest in eternal peace Save? Your wisdom, resilience and gallantry will forever flow within our hearts.

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