The family of former Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai has invited President Emmerson Mnangagwa to Tsvangirai’s memorial service next week offering a unique opportunity for the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader to meet his main rival MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.
Tsvangirai died on 14 February last year and the memorial service which should have been held in February was postponed to allow people to mourn those killed during the clamp down on protesters in January.
The memorial is now scheduled for 4 May.
The MDC wanted the memorial to be a party affair but Tsvangirai’s family insists this must be a national event as Tsvangirai was Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 2009 to 2013.
Tsvangirai’s brother, Manase, said the memorial was open to everyone.
“This memorial is open to everyone be it political parties, churches, individuals or other organisations, everybody is being invited. The reason is that Morgan made friends with everyone during the Government of National Unity, so we cannot be found singling out some people that they must not attend. Even ZANU-PF is invited. We have send invitations through the right protocol channels,” he was quoted by Newsday as saying.
“We also invited President Emmerson Mnangagwa, we sent through the invitation and an accompanying letter. Morgan was a former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and not of a party and because of that there is no way we can have selected people to attend.
“Morgan worked for Zimbabwe and we are saying everyone, be it the President, government officials and war veterans and other political parties are invited. This is going to be a very big function.”
Mnangagwa visited Tsvangirai at his home shortly before he went to South Africa for treatment and the State paid for Tsvangirai’s medical expenses as well as his funeral.
If Mnangagwa and Chamisa attend the memorial service this will be the first time the two will be meeting since Chamisa took over leadership of the party.
ZANU-PF was represented by its national chairman Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri at Tsvangirai’s funeral.
Mnangagwa was also represented by Muchinguri-Kashiri at the national prayer meeting organised by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches in February this year.
Chamisa has been demanding a one-on-one meeting with Mnangagwa but the ZANU-PF leader has rebuffed him because Chamisa does not recognise Mnangagwa as the country’s elected president though he lost the election challenge in the Constitutional Court last year.
He has also insisted that Mnangagwa cannot convene any national dialogue insisting that this must be presided over by someone from outside the country.
Chamisa, however, seems to have softened this stance as last week, he tweeted: “Where we are going now requires us to think and act together as Zimbabweans. Our dire situation is no longer about MDC or ZanuPF but about Zimbabwe. We have a nation to build and a generation to defend. We have the power!”
Mnangagwa started his own dialogue process with the leaders of 17 other political parties that fielded presidential candidates in last year’s elections.
The parties agreed that National Peace and Reconciliation Commission chair Selo Nare and Zimbabwe Gender Commission chair Margaret Sangarwe Mkahanana would co-chair the national dialogue.