African Press Association

‘The best President Zimbabwe never had’

Giyani Dube (Front row, 2nd left) remembers the late Tsvangirai (2nd right) fondly

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – HE has been hailed as the best President that Zimbabwe never had but while this is open to debate there is no denying that late Zimbabwean opposition leader and former Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, has left an indelible mark in the fight against dictatorship in his country and the continent.

Tsvangirai, whose name will ever be synonymous with fighting the repressive administration of President Robert Mugabe over the past two decades as leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), recently succumbed to colon cancer at a private clinic in Johannesburg.

He has received a rapturous sendoff at the burial in the eastern Buhera.

For Giyani Dube, the South African-based longtime youth member of Zimbabwe’s foremost opposition Tsvangirai founded and led in 1999, it is a great challenge that today, he is left holding on to the memories and experiences with the deceased at close range.

“At a very young age, fresh from high school, I took full part in MDC from its inception to date. I have held various positions to date,” he said in an interview.

Dube (35) is a National Executive member of the South African branch.

“I say goodbye to the giant and icon of the democratic struggle. I am one of the lucky ones to have experienced and rubbed shoulders with one of the greatest icons of our Zimbabwean struggle for democracy and the world at large,” added Dube.

“I have a lot of fresh memories with him even at home deep in my rural area of Gwanda, Matabeleland South during party rallies and at our national council meetings in Harare.”

Among the most prominent memories Dube has, ironically, was when Tsvangirai was in South Africa in the days leading to the death of Nelson Mandela, to whom the then-Australia Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, compared.

“I remember one of the days when he came to South Africa on his way to Qunu to pay his last respect to former President, the late Nelson Mandela. We set together and discussed a lot at OR Tambo airport before he jetted to Eastern Cape. As a young man and one of the leaders in MDC South Africa party structures, I played a very pivotal role in making sure I executed my tasks at hand with diligence.”

Dube added Tsvangirai’s impact cut across all classes of society.

“He was indeed a voice of both the rich and the poor, a walking stick to the old and a hope to the new generation,” the youth leader extolled.

“He fought hard for a non-racial society and a just Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, he did not manage to end the journey we started together. However, I am confident his vision for a new democratic Zimbabwe will be archived as we soldier on. Your (Tsvangirai) idea and vision will never die. Together with fellow comrades, I promise Zimbabwe that your vision will be fulfilled in June 2018 (elections).

Tsvangirai’s death has set off fierce factional fights to succeed the longtime opposition politician and trade union leader.

Three deputies-Nelson Chamisa, Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe- are vying to succeed him.

Dube cautioned party leaders against indiscipline.

“To MDC party members and its entire leadership, this is the time to be disciplined, united and give our departed icon of a true democratic struggle for Zimbabwe a befitting send off,” he said.

Ngqabutho Mabhena, General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Communist Party (ZCP), based in South Africa, bemoaned the squabbles threatening the party with another split.

The party earlier split in 2005 over the decision to participate in the senatorial elections. Tsvangirai was against the participation in the polls citing rigging fears while a faction to be led by the then Secretary General Welshman Ncube, which was opposed to the boycott, broke away.

“As we mourn the death of Tsvangirai, we are confronted by the fact that, he died at a time when his party is going through internal power struggles as a result of both its failure to implement a clear succession plan and to formulate a clear political and economic strategy which is pro-working-class and anti-imperialist as the MDC was during its formative stage,” Mabhena said.
– CAJ News