The late MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai’s mother, Lydia Zvaipa, was conspicuous by her absence at a memorial service for her son held at Mabelreign Methodist Fellowship Church in Harare yesterday, as tensions rise, following the death of the opposition leader.
Tsvangirai’s mother had declared that she did not want to see acting MDC-T president, Nelson Chamisa and the late opposition leader’s wife, Elizabeth Macheka at the funeral, threatening to commit suicide if they attended.
At yesterday’s service, the master of ceremonies called on Zvaipa to give a speech, but a family member said she was not present.
A family spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tsvangirai’s mother failed to turn up for the service due to logistical problems.
“The driver, who was supposed to pick her up, did not pitch up,” the relative said.
The MDC-T seemed to be in the dark on Zvaipa’s non-attendance.
“I do not know why she is not here, I left the president’s residence early and you can contact the Tsvangirai family, they will tell you,” MDC-T spokesman, Obert Gutu said.
Macheka and Chamisa attended the memorial service and this could have triggered Zvaipa’s fury.
Chamisa and his co-deputy presidents, Thokozani Khupe and Elias Mudzuri, who have also been at loggerheads, sat together near Tsvangirai’s coffin, while the MDC-T leader’s family was sat on the opposite side.
The show of unity was only temporary, as only Chamisa appeared at Harvest House to address party supporters a few hours later.
Methodist Church in Zimbabwe preacher, Jimmy Dube warned Tsvangirai’s family against washing their dirty linen in public.
“I want to warn you, Tsvangirai’s family, not talk about your affairs in public,” he admonished.
“People will talk ill of you if you wash you dirty linen in public.”
There have been reports of bad blood between Tsvangirai’s family on one hand and Macheka and Chamisa on the other.
Macheka was reportedly, at some stage, barred from visiting the stricken Tsvangirai at his bedside.
Among a slew of allegations, Macheka and Chamisa are alleged to have teamed up to launch an audacious power grab at MDC-T.
In his eulogy, the Methodist preacher said Tsvangirai showed that he loved Zimbabwe when he decided against contesting the violent 2008 presidential election run off.
“This humble man from Buhera won an election in 2008, but the election became a fiasco and after the ruling party asked for a replay, they changed goalposts and then there was diplomatic activity because of the love for the lives of people,” Dube said.
Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda described Tsvangirai as an icon of democracy.
“Tsvangirai is an icon of democracy nobody can take away this from him,” he said. “He earned the status through commitment. He was dynamic in standing for the rights for the people that is why he formed the MDC.”
After the service, MDC-T leaders then went to the party’s headquarters, Harvest House, to address party supporters, who braved rains to pay tribute to their late leader.
MDC-T secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora was booed off the podium by the party supporters, who chanted Chamisa’s name throughout his address.
Chamisa’s efforts to stop the supporters from disrupting Mwonzora’s speech proved fruitless.
In his speech, Chamisa promised to unite the party.
“We are going to bury the body in Buhera, but we will bring his ideas back,” he said.
Tsvangirai’s body will be transported to Buhera today and Chamisa told the gathering that the government had provided a helicopter to transport to carry the corpse.
Before travelling to Buhera, the body will briefly be taken to an open square near Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare.
Namibian opposition DTA leader, McHenry Venaani, who gave a solidarity message, said Tsvangirai was a champion of democracy in Africa and he fought for free and fair elections.
Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga is expected to attend the burial.