Tributes have been pouring in for Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who died from cancer. The 65-year-old died at a Johannesburg hospital on Thursday night. He would have turned 66 next month.
There’ve been calls for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) president to be declared a national hero, a status usually reserved for members of the ruling party.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said they had been robbed of a fearless mentor. It was at the ZCTU more than 20 years ago that he began his fight for a new Zimbabwe. In 1999, he and some of his colleagues from the ZCTU were key founding members of the MDC.
Meanwhile, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga vowed Wednesday to "honour that great son of the soil" as he expressed his "sadness" over the death of former Prime Minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, NewZimbabwe reported. His sentiments have been widely interpreted as implying that the leadership of the country will certainly declare Tsvangirai a national hero.
While giving his condolence message to the Tsvangirai family, the MDC family and the nation at large, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai will be remembered for his political maturity after partnering the ruling Zanu PF party in forming a unity government following the disputed and violent 2008 elections.
President Mnangagwa also revealed that consultations were ongoing in government and with the Tsvangirai family for a befitting honour for the late veteran politician.
“On behalf of the ruling Zanu-PF party, Government, our nation and that of my family, I wish to express the deepest condolences to the Tsvangirai family on the sad passing yesterday evening of Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, the former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and leader of the MDC-T party,” said President Mnangagwa in a statement.
“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 after the polarizing 2013 elections. As we join the Tsvangirai family in mourning the dear departed, we pray that the whole family remains united to give the deceased a dignified send off. Consultations are underway in Government and with the family to determine what else Government needs to do to accord the departed a befitting honour,” said President Mnangagwa.
Various influential personalities from across the nation have been calling on President Mnangagwa and the relevant authorities to declare Mr Tsvangirai a national hero.
Businessman and church leader Shingu Munyeza, tweeted: "MORGAN RICHARD TSVANGIRAI DESERVES A NATIONAL HERO STATUS. If the current regime declares MRT a national hero, this will mark the most significant departure to date from the Mugabe regime. This will be the single most unifying gesture since the unity accord of 1987."
Newsday, The Independent and The Standard Newspapers founder, Trevor Ncube said: "National Hero Status for Morgan Tsvangirai Your Excellency President Mnangagwa @edmnangagwa I wish to strongly endorse public sentiment that the late Morgan Tsvangirai be granted national hero status and be laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre."
High Court Advocate and Harare East Constituency aspiring MP, Fadzai Mahere also echoed the same sentiments: "Morgan Tsvangirai deserves to be declared a national hero – that’s if the national shrine is dedicated to those who contributed to building the great nation that is Zimbabwe, those who believed that our best days are ahead of us & those who were prepared to fight for the dream."
Former Chronicle and ex-New Zimbabwe Editor, Mduduzi Mathuthu however had no kind words for the ruling party Zanu PF. He then took it upon himself to declare Tsvangirai a national hero, even if Zanu PF decides not to bury him at the Heroes ACre: "They denied Gibson Sibanda any hero status. The MDC and his family must beware junta's political honeytrap. Tsvangirai's wife also lies not at the Heroes Acre. Morgan Tsvangirai is a national hero wherever his final resting place is going to be"