Thousands farewell Zimbabwe’s Tsvangirai

Thousands have gathered in Zimbabwe’s capital to farewell Morgan Tsvangirai who died on February 14.In a sea of red T-shirts, thousands of Zimbabweans have bid farewell to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose death has opened divisions in his Movement for Democratic Change party only months before elections.

Tsvangirai died on February 14 aged 65 after a long battle with cancer and is due to be buried on Tuesday in his rural home of Buhera, 200km southeast of Harare.

Party faithful converged on a square in downtown Harare on Monday to bid farewell to a man whose career was defined by his rivalry with long-time president Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in November.

“This is the People’s General, who led the poor, the workers and the youth since 1988. We grieve with hope that the army that the general built will finish the work that he started,” former MDC legislator Munyaradzi Gwisai told the crowd.

McHenry Venaani, the opposition leader in neighbouring Namibia, described Tsvangirai as a “doyen of democratisation of Africa” who had “started a journey of a thousand miles into immortality”.

In life, Tsvangirai and his supporters were beaten, humiliated and accused of treason. In death, the ruling ZANU-PF party has accorded Tsvangirai rare respect, including a military helicopter to transport his body to his rural home.

Supporters chanted MDC slogans, including a popular song calling Tsvangirai to lead because ZANU-PF, the only party Zimbabwe has known since independence from Britain in 1980, had failed.

“Tsvangirai did not discriminate. He loved everyone,” said 59-year-old grandmother Chioniso Mazivanhanga, who said she had known Tsvangirai as a mining union leader since 1976.

Behind the public outpouring of grief, however, senior MDC officials are at war over control of the party.

The election of Nelson Chamisa, 40, as acting president has angered a rival faction led by party vice presidents Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe, who are also bidding to succeed Tsvangirai.

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