Funerals are not rallies – Zimbabwe MP says


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An opposition Member of Parliament yesterday urged political parties not to take political issues to funerals because funerals are not rallies.

Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, a legislator for the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai, told Parliament that the death of Vimbai Tsvangirai-Java, who represented the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, had united the nation across the political divide but this was scuttled at her burial when Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda and MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe were booed by MDC supporters.

Speaking during a motion to pay condolences to Tsvangirai-Java, who died on 10 June after almost four weeks in hospital following a car accident, Misihairabwi-Mushonga everyone was impressed by the level of discipline and unity displayed at Tsvangirai-Java’s church service at the City Sports Centre but everything suddenly changed at her burial the following day.

“I am saying so because now that we are having this debate, let us go back to our political parties and say, when it is a funeral, it is a funeral.  We are all together and we are celebrating the life of this individual,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.

“Politicians, let us not take the issue of politics to funerals.  Funerals are not rallies for goodness sake.  Funerals are about talking about this particular individual.  Yes, we can refer to Mr Morgan Tsvangirai to say he was the father but at that stage, it was about Vimbai.

“It is not about Vimbai as this political figure – yes we acknowledge that she was a politician, we cannot run away from it but do not box her into that politician because we are taking out this greatness that this particular individual was.  I am saying so to my friends and cousins veku MDC-Alliance that can you go and say this to your young people because my friend Thokozani Khupe was totally hurt because of that booing that happened the next day.”

Full contribution:

HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you very much Hon. Speaker for giving us this opportunity.  Thank you very much to Hon. Mushoriwa for giving us this opportunity to speak, mourn, educate and tell each other some of the truths in the spirit of wanting us to go back to humanity.  I agree with Hon. Mpariwa, that your deeds during your lifetime will follow you to the last breath.  For me, that is what I saw that day, night and service.  It was a replica of the life that Vimbai had lived, the serenity and respect.  You know our history.

I drove in my own car and I must say that I was a bit worried that I was driving on my own and was uncertain of what I was going to see there.  However, I got to the gate and I can assure you that I did not see any one youth who was drunk.  I do not know if they were drunk, they may have been somewhere else.  There were too many cars and as soon as they saw that it was me and I did not have a driver, they said, “Hon. Member, park your car here, we will look after it, you go inside.”

As I sat and went through the service, I said to myself, ‘if I were to die, perhaps this is what I would love to happen.”  There was a complete separation of the politics that we have and the unity and understanding of what we had come for.  Hon. Chinotimba was asked to come and speak. You should have seen how the crowd ululated and clapped, which was a sign that people were saying to us, ‘this is exactly what we want.’ Vimbai was young, as alluded to by Hon. Mpariwa.  For some of us who want to see these young vibrant women coming up in politics, she was one of those who gave you the feeling that even if you are gone, there are some who have come after us who will be able to continue the work that we are doing.  There was humility that you do not find in some of us but you found in Vimbai.

So, today it is not about Vimbai because she is gone.  If there is anything that I learnt on that day, it is that when people die, they are asleep and gone.  We all said, if Susan and Morgan were alive, there is no way they would have allowed that accident to happen.  So, this superstition we have of lying to each other that they will see us and we appease the spirits of the dead and so on, we are wasting time.  For me, that was the biggest message; they are gone, Vimbai is not here anymore.  Unfortunately, we spend too much time shouting at each other instead of saying to each other, ‘I really like the person that you are, I like your humility.’  Some of us are now standing here pontificating about how nice she was but we never took time even for a second to just say, ‘you know what young girl, I really like the way that you carry yourself – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – I think that it is something that we need to learn.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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