By Fungi Kwaramba
President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to the rescue of the Tsvangirais yesterday, who were swamped by bills relating to health costs incurred by the late MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, amounting to R2 million.
Mnangagwa committed his government to cover all the expenses to do with Tsvangirai’s funeral, including a R2 million hospital bill.
This is over and above other financial interventions by government since last year.
Mnangagwa made the pledge after the late opposition leader’s niece, Bylnn Chitsunga, made a passionate plea for assistance in his presence.
“In his last days, he was always talking about what he has always wanted.
“He asked for the president to make sure that everyone gets land, not based on political affiliation. He also asked me to reach the president and I am asking all people to make sure that this is a non-political funeral.
“We left a 2 million (rand) bill in South Africa. Of course, government has done everything it can and now we are asking people to make contributions towards the funeral. We are also asking government to help — please help my sekuru, please help in the burial of sekuru,” she pleaded.
Chitsungo was one of the few people who were stationed at the South African hospital where Tsvangirai had been admitted.
Speaking to the Tsvangirai family yesterday, Mnangagwa who was paying his condolences at the former Prime Minister’s Highlands home, said government would bear the costs and asked acting minister of Information Simon Khaya Moyo to get a list of what the family needed.
“We recently visited him when we heard that his health had deteriorated. I used to call him sekuru because ana Save (Tsvangirai’s totem) ndiana sekuru vangu and he would call me muzukuru and during the inclusive government he would ask me after a meeting ‘what were you saying muzukuru’.
“When I visited him, he told me his concerns and what I promised him when we came here that I will fulfil. I will fulfil all that I promised kuna sekuru. At one point I was told by the wife (Elizabeth) that the bill was skyrocketing and met with my ministers and we said we would help and we will assist in everything,” said Mnangagwa.
The president said although he did not come to the airport to receive Tsvangirai’s body, Khaya-Moyo stood in for him, before he instructed that the body be taken to One Commando Barracks.
With his audience charmed by his generosity, Mnangagwa raised the bar even higher.
He said: “If you give us a programme we will provide a helicopter to carry his body home”.
With mourners now spellbound, Mnangagwa preached peace, love and tolerance and stressed that while people may differ politically the unifying force is that Zimbabwe comes first.
“Let us unite. To the mother, I want to say I am here and I will always support you. I was being informed about his health by our people in South Africa and doctors also briefed me about his condition, don’t worry about the bills, let us first bury him,” said Mnangagwa.
When Mnangagwa arrived at the former prime minister’s home in the company of his wife, Auxilia, with his two deputies Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi in tow, opposition party supporters sang derogative songs, accusing the Zanu PF government of having had a hand in the death of their beloved leader.
But that suddenly changed when they heard that government would assist in the funeral of their icon marred by family feuds and a leadership contest among the MDC’s three vice presidents.
Former vice president Joice Mujuru and her delegation from the National People Party, which she leads, were also in attendance.
In a rare moment of honesty from a Zanu PF kingpin, Mnangagwa, whose government under former president Robert Mugabe always gave Tsvangirai a hard time, admitted that the late opposition leader’s life was never easy to the extent that his heroism is drawing international attention.
Mnangagwa later told journalists that it would be amiss to omit Tsvangirai’s name when the country history is written.
He pledged a free and fair election to honour the late opposition leader.
With the MDC failing to print T-shirts, or posters, the planning for the trip to Buhera was turning into a logistical nightmare had it not been for government which offered buses and food.
Tsvangirai, who will be buried tomorrow in his rural home of Buhera, succumbed to the ravaging effects of colon cancer. Daily News