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Mutare to name road after Tsvangirai

The Mutare City Council has resolved to rename a street in the city’s central business district after the country’s late former prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.

File picture of Morgan Tsvangirai at the World Economic Forum
File picture of Morgan Tsvangirai at the World Economic Forum

Council made the resolution to rename Second Street after the former opposition MDC honcho, Tsvangirai, for his contribution to the country.

It has since written to the ministry of Local Government for approval after a full council meeting adopted the motion for the name change, moved by councillor Simon Mapuvire.

Mapuvire moved the written motion on April 9.

According to town clerk Joshua Maligwa’s report to a special council meeting on April 16, the councillor moved the motion to recognise Tsvangirai’s “immense contribution towards development in the nation of Zimbabwe”.

The motion sailed through the MDC-dominated council without opposition from their rivals in Zanu PF.

Mapuvire argued that Tsvangirai was an “icon of Zimbabwe” who made immeasurable contributions to the country.

He said the recognition was in line with how eminent personalities have been honoured by the border city.

Mapuvire said this was “taking into account the fact that Main Street in Mutare was named after liberation war hero Herbert Wilshire Chitepo”.

In terms of the law, roads and locations can be named after the dead, fauna and flora, among other things.

Tsvangirai died in South Africa in February at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer of the colon.

He was born on March 10, 1952 in Gutu, Masvingo province.

Tsvangirai was married to Elizabeth Tsvangirai nee Macheka after his first wife Susan died in a car accident in 2009.

The first of nine children,  Tsvangirai made the most of his schooling and subsequent opportunities, which saw him start his working life as a sweeper in a textile factory and move on to the Trojan Nickel Mine as a plant operator.

It was here that Tsvangirai’s involvement with the trade union movement began, and in 1985 he took up the full-time position of vice president of Zimbabwe’s Associated Mine Workers Union.

Three years later he became secretary-general of the biggest labour union in the country, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

Over the next decade, Tsvangirai played a key role in organising and uniting Zimbabwe’s trade unions and civil movements into an informal opposition to the ruling Zanu PF government of former president Robert Mugabe which by then was a de facto one party state having united and formed a government of national unity with the main opposition party PF Zapu in 1987.

The labour movement in the late 1990s under Tsvangirai was to provide the wind to the sails for the formation of the opposition MDC as worker grievances then gave rise to a formidable challenge against the Mugabe’s government.

This culminated, in September 1999, in the launch of the MDC.

Under Tsvangirai’s leadership, the MDC contested the 2000 parliamentary election and the 2002 presidential election, both hampered by electoral irregularities and intimidation, including two sets of treason charges levelled at Tsvangirai.

The opposition leader like many Zimbabweans after the liberation war was once an avid supporter of Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party.

Tsvangirai, the only opposition leader who has ever won an election against Mugabe since 1980, was denied outright victory in 2008, after failing to get the 50 percent plus one vote.  Tsvangirai won the presidential election by 47 percent of the votes, while Mugabe got 43 percent.

But Tsvangirai the standard-bearer of the MDC withdrew after hundreds of his supporters were allegedly murdered by Mugabe’s supporters.

He alleged that his party was facing a war rather than an election, “and we will not be part of that war.”

The UN Security Council unanimously agreed to take its first formal action on Harare by ruling that a free and fair presidential election run-off was impossible because of violence.

The council, including Zimbabwe’s allies South Africa, China and Russia that had previously long opposed discussion on Zimbabwe, made the decision after the Netherlands said Tsvangirai had taken refuge in its Harare embassy fearing for his life.

The protagonists parties in Zimbabwe, namely Zanu PF and the two MDC factions agreed on September 15, 2008 to work together to halt political and economic impasse that had crippled the nation in the new millennium.

This agreement (affectionately known as the Global Political Agreement (GPA)) ushered in an array of hope and paved way for the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU), which ended on June 29, 2013.

In his lifetime, Tsvangirai collected a number of accolades from organisations throughout the world recognising his fight for human rights in Zimbabwe.

For two consecutive years Tsvangirai was seen as the favourite to win the much coveted Nobel Peace Prize. In 2010, he was listed among hopefuls to land the award having lost out to Obama in 2009.

The National Democratic Institute, a US based pro-democracy group, gave one of its highest honours to Tsvangirai in 2010.

The NDI’s W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award which recognises individuals and groups who have demonstrated a commitment to democracy and human rights.

In 2009, the International Bar Association gave Tsvangirai an award “in recognition of his inspiring leadership in the struggle to secure the rule of law in Zimbabwe’’. Daily News