The body of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has repatriated to his home country on Saturday afternoon.
The fearless leader died in a Johannesburg hospital on Wednesday after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Condolences have been pouring in from all over the world and the country’s former prime minister, who has been described as a vibrant and energetic leader during his time as a challenger to Zimbabwe’s longtime president Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai’s family said it had prepared itself for the worst after his condition had started deteriorating in hospital.
“We are humbled by the condolences and the well wishes and messages of support and we appreciate them,” Tsvangirai’s son Edwin said.
“I would like him to be remembered as a man who stood for the poor, stood by the poor and a man who is remembered for championing the bottom and the downtrodden,” he said.
Tsvangirai’s political associates said his death was a major setback as Zimbabwe gears up for national elections this year.
“Death has robbed not the MDC of an icon and paragon of democratic virtues and consistency, it has robbed the whole country of a statesman,” said Zimbabwe Exiles Forum spokesman Gabriel Shuma.
Zimbabwe Business Forum chairman Marshall Sankara said Tsvangirai had stood up against the brutality of Zimbabwean “apartheid in Mugabe’s rule”.
Tsvangirai rose from humble beginnings, with only a high-school education, to become one of Zimbabwe’s sharpest and most iconic political figures.
For the almost 20 years since he formed the opposition party MDC, he was at the forefront of the country’s politics and lived to see the end of his long-time foe Mugabe’s iron-fisted rule in November 2017.