There was drama at One Commando Barracks, Harare yesterday when the late MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s mother threatened to commit suicide, protesting the presence of her son’s widow, Ms Elizabeth Macheka, and party deputy, Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
The incident occurred around 6pm as mourners gathered at the barrack’s mortuary to receive Mr Tsvangirai’s body from South Africa where he died.
Ms Macheka and Adv Chamisa did not respond, though tension engulfed the occasion.
Mbuya Tsvangirai fumed: “Udza vana sekuru vako kuti Eliza handidi kumuwona pano, naChamisa. Kana speech yaChamisa handidi kuinzwa, ndinozvisungirira (Tell your uncles that I do not want to see Elizabeth and Chamisa. I will commit suicide if Chamisa delivers an address).”
She only calmed down after close relatives intervened.
Adv Chamisa is believed to be at loggerheads with the Tsvangirai family over the fallen opposition leader’s succession.
Reports suggest the family is rooting for Engineer Elias Mudzuri to take over the MDC-T leadership while some senior party leaders are for Adv Chamisa.
The family believes Ms Macheka is in the Chamisa camp.
The fissures were pronounced at One Commando as Adv Chamisa’s supporters cheered him and jeered at Eng Mudzuri and Dr Thokozani Khupe, Mr Tsvangirai’s other deputy.
Mr Tsvangirai’s brother, Mr Manase Tsvangirai, told The Sunday Mail that they had summoned the three and implored them to stop public spats out of respect for their departed boss.
He said this as his other sibling, Collins, gave an emotional narrative of Mr Tsvangirai’s last days.
Collins told the gathering that the 65-year-old opposition leader had shown signs of recovery last Sunday, but his condition deteriorated between Monday and Tuesday.
He subsequently breathed his last on Wednesday.
He had battled colon cancer and a resultant combination of ailments such as kidney failure, heart complications and a depressed blood system.
“I travelled to South Africa to be with him about six weeks ago; our mother and my sisters also joined me there. On Sunday, we had some hope because his face showed signs of glow. When we left the hospital that day at around 8 pm, we thought that he was going to get better.
“But on Monday and Tuesday, his health deteriorated rapidly. When I visited him in hospital on Wednesday, his body temperature was 34 degrees celsius. There was a lot that he was fighting.
“It was not just one disease, but many aliments. He had a problem with his heart, kidneys; and blood system was failing and his legs were swollen. On the day that he died, we prayed vigorously with him as we asked for God’s help, but God chose his way.
“We thank Government for footing the bills and also giving us direct contact from the embassy in South Africa which was also very helpful. We constantly communicated with the authorities and they provided what we asked for.”
Manase told this paper, “Ever since he was diagnosed with cancer, he was very open to the family about his illness. I last visited him in hospital in South Africa on 27 January and he still had hope. He told me that he would remain strong and he would fight with all his strength.
“But it is sad that he died. Even though he died, I think he died a peaceful man. What is painful for us is the thought that perhaps if he had been diagnosed with the disease a bit earlier, maybe it would not have affected him as much as it did in such a quick time.
“Obviously, there was nothing that could have been done because he was a man who went for regular health check-ups. It is a big loss to the family and it is going to be hard to move on without him because you cannot replace such a man.
“As a family, we are humbled by the outpouring of emotion that is coming from not only in Zimbabwe, but all over the world. We are comforted by this show of love for him and it is a befitting send-off for a man of his stature and it will also help to preserve his legacy.”
Acting Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo said, “I was sent by His Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to go the airport to receive the body on behalf of Government, together with the family and friends. This was a great man.
“I do not have many words because I know His Excellency will visit the house tomorrow (today) and convey his message on behalf of all of us. We thank God for giving us such a courageous leader. He was a leader of vision and a leader of destiny.
“I will report to His Excellency that this was a befitting welcome to a man who was a great leader. He was a man of purpose, a man of strength and a man of courage.”
Mr Tsvangirai’s body will be taken to his Highlands, Harare home today, with a possible public parade later in the day.
It will be taken to his rural home in Buhera tomorrow ahead of Tuesday’s burial.