Morgan Tsvangirai buried in rural home

More than 5,000 people have attended the burial of Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in his home village after he died of colon cancer.

Morgan Tsvangirai's funeral in Buhera
Morgan Tsvangirai’s funeral in Buhera

The burial was marred by divisions in the party he formed and led, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Crowds booed two leaders challenging the appointment of Nelson Chamisa as the party’s acting president.

Mr Tsvangirai, a fierce opponent of Zanu-PF’s 37-year rule, died of colon cancer on 14 February aged 65.

Kenyan Opposition leader Ralia Odinga, left, speaks to Zimbabwean Movement for Democtratic Change acting President, Nelson Chamisa during the burial ceremony of Morgan Tsvangirai in Buhera, Zimbabwe about 200 kilometres south east of Harare, Tuesday, Feb, 20, 2018. Zimbabwe's veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, aged 65, died Feb 14 and was laid to rest at his rural home in Buhera. (Tsvangirai Mukwazhi - AP)
Kenyan Opposition leader Ralia Odinga, left, speaks to Zimbabwean Movement for Democtratic Change acting President, Nelson Chamisa during the burial ceremony of Morgan Tsvangirai in Buhera, Zimbabwe about 200 kilometres south east of Harare, Tuesday, Feb, 20, 2018. Zimbabwe’s veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, aged 65, died Feb 14 and was laid to rest at his rural home in Buhera. (Tsvangirai Mukwazhi – AP)

Kenya’s main opposition leader Raila Odinga attended the burial, having previously hailed Mr Tsvangirai as someone who fought for “justice for his country and his people despite the firm hands of dictatorship that held sway”.

Kenya’s immigration department had barred two allies of Mr Odinga, Senator James Orengo and businessman Jimi Wanjigi, from flying to Zimbabwe for the burial, saying the pair had failed to present a court order overturning a suspension of their passports.

The department later reversed its decision.

Mr Tsvangirai was lowered to his final resting place, beside his first wife Susan, in Buhera, some 200km (124 miles) from the capital, Harare.

Even in grief, the tensions within the MDC are apparent, as rival factions battle for control of the party, reports the BBC’s Shingai Nyoka from Harare.

Police protect MDC Vice President Thokozani Khupe after rowdy elements tried to chase her away from the burial
Police protect MDC Vice President Thokozani Khupe after rowdy elements tried to chase her away from the burial

MDC vice-president Thokozani Khupe and secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora were booed by some mourners for opposing Mr Chamisa’s appointment as acting party leader.

Police protect MDC Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora after rowdy elements tried to chase him away from the burial
Police protect MDC Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora after rowdy elements tried to chase him away from the burial

Some believe the MDC could split following Mr Tsvangirai’s death, while others say it could re-energise itself under a new leadership, our correspondent says.

Zimbabwe is due to hold general elections later this year, the first since President Emmerson Mnangagwa forced long-time ruler Robert Mugabe to step down in November.

Nelson Chamisa trying to calm the crowd from booing Zanu PF's Oppah Muchinguri
Nelson Chamisa trying to calm the crowd from booing Zanu PF’s Oppah Muchinguri
Oliver Mtukudzi paying his last respects to Morgan Tsvangirai
Oliver Mtukudzi paying his last respects to Morgan Tsvangirai

Mr Tsvangirai’s career was marked by a long political struggle against Mr Mugabe. He was beaten and imprisoned numerous times.

In the 2008 election, Mr Tsvangirai gained the most votes in the first round but not enough to win outright.

Before the second round of voting, Mr Mugabe’s security forces carried out a campaign of violence against opposition supporters, and Mr Tsvangirai withdrew.

Mr Mugabe was declared the winner, but an international outcry over allegations of violence and vote-rigging led to a power sharing agreement in which Mr Tsvangirai would serve as prime minister.

Mr Tsvangirai ran against Mr Mugabe again in 2013 but lost by a landslide. BBC News