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Farewell fighter: Tribute to Vimbai Tsvangirai





Death has robbed Zimbabwe of one of her most esteemed and accomplished daughters, Vimbai Tsvangirai - Java.

The heroic conquests of the Tsvangirai's over the years can never be overstated, however, these have also not been without intrigue, drama and much pain.

The Tsvangirai's gave much, but seem to have lost much more, death in particular has not been too kind to this family.

Mourning Zimbabweans have been left in shock over Vimbai's death, it is simply confounding that on the dawn of a new Zimbabwe another blossoming Tsvangirai flower should be so prematurely plucked from us. Indeed she has joined angels in heaven but has left those she led who counted on her love and support in great pain. Social media has been awash with condolence messages for the late Vimbai.

Vimbai a woman of destiny was only 36 carrying promise and hope, another few years she could easily like her father before her have made it as a national leader of note. A role model for other young women around her and a loss to the women's movement in Zimbabwe.

She was in recent years like her father before her, part of a wave of that generation of young Zimbabweanborn-frees after Independence in 1980,  sensing the urgency of leadership, organising and taking charge while breathing new energy into Zimbabwe's  body politic.

The country is held at ransom by clueless nationalist geriatrics who refuse to let go.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of the deepest economic crisis, citizens continue to sink deeper into poverty and desperation with inflation at  an all high;  bread, water, electricity and fuel either rare services or commodities.

Vimbai has stood up like her father before her fighting for justice and human rights.

Her father the late Morgan Richard Tsvangirai the veteran trade-unionist and founder of Zimbabwe's most formidable opposition party since independence, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) died at the age of 65 in 2018 after succumbing to colon cancer. Tsvangirai was a constant head-ache and pain in the neck for long serving Zimbabwe's leader Zanu PF's Robert Mugabe, dying in the trenches, in the line of duty, ironically so too does his daughter.

Consequently, writing a tribute on Vimbai, one cannot separate her legacy, her story from her father the  late Tsvangirai and his fight for a better Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai at various points in history led the democratic movement to victory breaking Zanu-PF's stranglehold over the country.

For instance at the formation of the MDC in 1999 the one party state under Zanu-PF faced its first real challenge with the MDC in the 2000 Parliamentary elections winning 57 out of the 120 seats. It was huge step forward that invigorated Zimbabweans as they looked forward to a short lived struggle with Mugabe soon to be in their past.  Vimbai was only 16 when her father became an enduring symbol of hope for the millions of Zimbabweans who had suffered under the yoke of Zanu-PF's misrule.

Little perhaps at the time did the Tsvangirai's realise the price that was to be paid for Zimbabwe's freedom.
Tsvangirai became active as a trade unionist well before Vimbai was born, meeting her mother Susan in Bindura at Trojan Nickel mine, in 1976.

The two are married for 31 years, until they are separated tragically by death after Susan died in a mysterious car accident. This was during the days of the Government of National Unity in 2009, formed under a deal that was hoped  to transition Zimbabwe to a better future. A decade later the cloud of suspicion which lingered over Susan's death in that fatal accident in March 2009, along the Harare-Masvingo road can also be seen in her first born daughter Vimbai's death. Zimbabweans never take accidents at face value even those that claim the lives of Zanu-PF politicians.

Mother and daughter died in great pain. While Susan died at the scene her daughter Vimbai died days later from what are reported to be injuries sustained during the accident, never mind she had almost been given a clean bill of health, and was set to celebrate her election as the MDC Alliance Secretary General for the Women's Assembly.

Tsvangirai's struggle and sacrifices for Zimbabwe are well documented, not surprising therefore, that Vimbai an offshoot of his  legacy is loved for her compassionate nature, also lauded as a pragmatic politician commanding much love and respect.

Vimbai is survived by  her cleric husband Batsiranai Java of the Tabernacle of Grace Church.

She did her High School atMabelreign Girls' High, and later on studied at New Castle University in Australia, where she attained a bachelor's degree in development studies, and urban and regional planning in 2008.

 Speaking at her funeral wake MDC Alliance leader Advocate Nelson Chamisa, acknowledged the double mantles Vimbai carried – the political and apostolic one.

"We  are here to celebrate a life of a legend, of an apostle, of an honourable member, a life of a politician whose life has been cut short. She was a budding politician," said Chamisa.

As an apostle Vimbai carried herself with class, dressing tastefully with dignity, exuding the character of what many would describe as an epitome of a Christian woman - the Proverbs 31 woman. A fact acknowledged by her husband during her funeral, describing Vimbai as organised neat and orderly in all her vocations.

After her father's death the discerning Vimbai stood with Advocate Chamisa, even as her own family seemed to be divided over the choices to be made. Vimbai went on to win the Glen View South constituency.

Tsvangirai the father dedicated the greater part of his life fighting for workers rights, then after that for freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe. He survived several assassination attempts. The price for freedom has been a heavy one for the Tsvangirai family as they continue to suffer blow after blow.

The eldest daughter of the Tsvangirai's carried herself with an aura of dignity. Vimbai had presence and authority in her own right, taking steps into her destiny as a Pastor and politician. A balance she managed so well.

All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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