Cape Town – Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is set to be buried on Tuesday, his son Edwin Tsvangirai has said.
Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer at a private South African hospital on Wednesday.
His body was expected to be repatriated on Saturday evening aboard an Air Zimbabwe plane
Edwin confirmed during an interview with News24 that the Zimbabwean government was assisting with repatriation and funeral arrangements.
“He (Tsvangirai) will be repatriated back home on Saturday evening. He will then be buried on Tuesday in Buhera. There’s a memorial service in Yeoville today (Friday) and we expect a few dignitaries, including his party supporters to be present,” said Edwin.
Tsvangirai, who founded the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999, was among the most prominent critics of ex-president Robert Mugabe, the long-time authoritarian leader who was ousted from power in November.
Earlier reports quoted President Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying that his government had accorded Tsvangirai a state-assisted funeral, but not the country’s highest honour of a national hero.
“I have discussed with my colleagues [in the ruling Zanu-PF party] what honour we are going to give him. We gave him state assisted funeral. Everything will be taken care of by the state,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying.
A state funeral was equivalent to a provincial hero status.
Mnangagwa’s remarks came following public calls to accord Tsvangirai a national hero status.
According to New Zimbabwe.com, the Movement for Democratic Change spokesperson, Obert Gutu said that denying the ex-trade unionist the national hero status did not invalidate his contribution to democracy in Zimbabwe.
“Morgan Tsvangirai, by his deeds, is a national hero. All right thinking Zimbabweans know and appreciated the fact that Tsvangirai was a resolute, consistent, selfless and passionate fighter for peaceful democratic change in Zimbabwe. He is an icon even if Zanu-PF government has not declared him a national hero. We all know that he is a national hero. That is all that matters,” Gutu was quoted as saying.