Windhoek-Namibia opposition parties have described as ‘a great leader’ the Zimbabwean leader of the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T), Morgan Tsvangirai, who succumbed to cancer in South Africa this week.
The former Zimbabwean prime minister, who died on Wednesday, is a former trade unionist who fought fearlessly for democracy and a democratic regime in the interest of the Zimbabwean people.
Zimbabwe’s most famous opposition leader died in South Africa, where he was receiving treatment, after a long battle with cancer of the colon. He was 65.
“The world has lost a great leader and a great statesman of all times. Not many individuals have fought fearlessly for democracy and democratic regime as the late Tsvangirai has,” said McHenry Venaani, the leader of the opposition Popular Democratic Movement.
Venaani said the late Tsvangirai has fought on all fronts, ranging from constitutional referendums with the fundamental and important bill of rights, and political intimidation under the regime of long-serving former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who resigned last year.
“He participated in a couple of elections that centred on the balancing of power and shifting of the economy of his own country into positive a state and also fighting to end the country’s syndrome of one-party dominance,” said Venaani.
In his condolence message to Tsvangirai’s family, Venaani confessed that he shared a close relationship with Tsvangirai dating back to 1999 when the two were fighting for democratic balanced power in their respective countries as the opposition.
“It’s with great sadness that I deliver this message of condolence to the late Tsvangirai’s spouse, Miss Elizabeth Macheka, their children and also their friends. Death is never easy, not especially when it’s the death of the greatest democrat and one of the fearless leaders in the African history,” Venaani said.
He said he shared a common interest in democratic change, economic emancipation and the wellbeing and general warfare of the people with the late Tsvangirai. He also said they both served in the Southern African Democratic Community (SADC) opposition leaders’ forum chaired by Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance in South Africa.
Venaani confirmed he would be attending the funeral and burial of the late Tsvangirai on behalf of his political party.
President of the Rally for Democracy and Progress, Jeremiah Nambinga, said Tsvangirai would be remembered as a strong and persistent opposition leader, who fought a great fight to ensure that Zimbabwe’s democracy was upheld.
“He was one of the opposition leaders, who strived for a balanced and fair decision-making body in the interest of their people. Therefore, he will be remembered for his dedication and hard work and the political contribution he has made to the African communities and the inspiration he has given to other opposition parties in the SADC region,” he said.
Meanwhile, SWANU of Namibia president, Usutuaije Maamberua, has urged opposition parties to emulate the hard work and courage of Tsvangirai in fighting for democracy and justice for his people.
“He will be remembered for his audacity and as one of the people who fearlessly stood up for democracy and justice for the people,” Maamberua said.
Maamberua said Tsvangirai was a great fighter, who never surrendered or felt discouraged regardless of the harassment and victimisation from the ruling government since he started his political campaign in 1999.
“The work of Tsvangirai should serve as a lesson to us opposition parties that regardless of the bullying and intimidation from the ruling parties, we should be persistence and never surrender in order to be victorious in whatever we do,” Maamberua said.
Many Zimbabweans praised Tsvangirai as a hero, champion of democracy and symbol of resistance who will be hard to replace. The former trade unionist, who posed a formidable challenge to the ruling ZANU-PF’s nearly four-decade hold on power, was lauded by Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa as a strong trade unionist and opposition leader and vowed free elections in honour of him. Tsvangirai was assaulted, jailed and humiliated under Mnangagwa’s predecessor Robert Mugabe.
Meanwhile, infighting over his successor is already threatening to tear the MDC-T, the party that he founded, apart.