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Dr. Morgan Tsvangirai: Footprints On The Sands Of History – Tribute by Luke Tamborinyoka (Part 2 of 2)

Facts are stubborn. It is trite to state that the story of this country cannot be written without according veneration to the name of Dr. ...

Facts are stubborn. It is trite to state that the story of this country cannot be written without according veneration to the name of Dr. Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.

This Part 2 of the article; a special tribute; that was written by Luke Tamborinyoka in honour of Dr. Morgan Richard Tsvangirai; after the veteran leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has passed on in February 2018. Luke had served as the Presidential Spokesperson of Morgan Tsvangirai for over a decade.

Morgan Tsvangirai - MDC

Read Part 1 Here:

The first of our last two personal and direct engagements was on Friday, 5 January 2018 after his meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa. It was at that meeting at his residence that he intimated to me the details of his discussion with Mnangagwa. At the same meeting, he told me to tell the world that he was about to leave the country and he would leave Vice President Nelson Chamisa as acting President and he asked me to call Chamisa. After their brief indaba with VP Chamisa, he told me to communicate to the world that VP Hon. Engineer Mudzuri would be acting President. Present in the meeting that Friday afternoon was President Tsvangirai himself, his wife Elizabeth, his brother Manasseh Tsvangirai and his uncle, Sekuru Zvaipa.

It is ironic that after that communication, VP Khupe took issue with me, saying that as the elected VP, she should always act in the President’s absence. I referred her queries to the President, under whose authority and direction I had done the communication. Ironically, a month later, VP Mudzuri was to dispute my communication of the President’s directive that VP Chamisa was acting President.

My last face-to-face meeting with my boss was on Monday, 8 January 2018, the day before he left for South Africa, never to come back alive. He had asked me to draft a belated New Year’s message to the people of Zimbabwe, in which he was hinting at his imminent retirement.

He told me that it was important to signal to the world that he would not hold the nation at ransom; that he would not hold on to the party presidency if his doctors told him his health would not permit him to withstand a rigorous campaign. He perused his script and certified that I distribute it, only for the same script to cause a major furore in the party, with some misguided elements lying that the statement did not have president Tsvangirai’s blessings.

Morgan Tsvangirai - MDC

It is important to state that present at the foyer of his Highlands residence as he authenticated that statement hinting at a possible retirement was his brother Manasseh and Jameson Timba, who later arrived as the President and I were finishing validating his script, in which he hinted at handing over the baton to others. It was a possibility which he said he would only confirm upon his return.

Sadly, he will return with his body lying in the soft requiem of death; the inimitable raspy and raucous laughter never to be heard again at Harvest House. Yes, he left for the infirmary in South Africa on Tuesday, 9 January 2018, never to return alive to the country and the people he loved so much. He regularly phoned and at one point asked me to come over to South Africa so we could discuss a lot of issues, including the book that I was assisting him to write: Service and Sacrifice. It is a book that I pledge to complete in the next few months in honour of this loving man who had so much faith and trust in me.

I told then acting president Mudzuri that president Tsvangirai wanted me in South Africa. The then acting president promised to facilitate my trip before logistical impediments were thrown in the way to ensure that the trip never materialized.

He called to express his regrets that I had failed to turn up in South Africa. On Wednesday, 7 February 2018, he called again using a hospital staffer’s cellphone and told me that he had learnt that the other party leaders in the presidium had left the country for a meeting in Cape Town, leaving only VP Chamisa. He asked me to communicate that VP Chamisa, the only VP in the country then, would be acting President until he (president Tsvangirai) returned from South Africa.

In any case, this is the Presidency we are talking about, a whole institution which has its own unique ways of operation in which the whims of an individual staffer cannot just hold sway. Even the chief of staff Hon. Sessel Zvidzai and the party’s head of security and intelligence, Hon. Giles Mutsekwa can testify to the veracity of the President’s position when it comes to who was acting President at the time of his death.

President Tsvangirai told me from South Africa that his health was slowly failing him and that the thrust of the book - Service and Sacrifice - should change into a valediction and not to remain as a simple story of the party’s capacity to deliver to the people as shown during the inclusive government.

I felt tears swelling in my eyes before assuring him that he would be fine and he would rejoin us in the struggle soon. Alas, that was never to be.


He was a close friend who would at times call me and my wife to offer advice and to assure me that he took cognizance of my loyalty and committed service to himself. He once invited me and my wife to his house and he shared many of his thoughts in a convivial atmosphere. Present in that meeting in June 2017 was my friend, Sydney Masamvu.

As the party and the nation mourns, I cannot help but reminisce on the many moments we shared; the many thoughts he intimated to me on controversial subjects such as family politics, succession and his vision for the future. In our last conversation, he told me he had instructed medical staff to keep me informed about his health and that is how I kept in contact with staff at the infirmary until I received the tragic message that he had passed on.

In this his final moment, I urge the leadership to give this man a befitting send-off. I sincerely hope that this needless cockpit stampede will be put in abeyance, at least in the veneration of this doyen of our struggle.

Morgan Tsvangirai - MDC

His will remain a story of fortitude and tenacity and there is no doubt that he has left ineradicable footprints on the sands of history.

Thanks for the memories, Pakuru. Go well, Gallant Son of Zimbabwe.

Luke Tamborinyoka is the presidential spokesperson and Director of Communications in the MDC-T. He writes this in his official capacity.