African business, politics and lifestyle
Sign of change in Zimbabwe?
President Robert Mugabe joined the mourning for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife on Tuesday and called on Zimbabweans to end violence and support his old rival to help rebuild the country.
The death of Susan Tsvangirai in a road crash in which her husband was also injured has, at least on the surface, brought about a show of unity between Zimbabwe’s bitterest foes that might never have looked possible.
“This is a difficult moment for our colleague. He has lost a partner and we must all rally to support him and lessen his burden,” Mugabe told mourners at the service for the woman who supported Tsvangirai through years of political struggle against him.
“To our supporters, we want to say violence should stop. That’s what (Mrs) Tsvangirai would have wanted, for us to co-exist peacefully. We have just started a new life after years of fighting each other and insulting each other. We have said let’s give peace and harmony a chance and work together.”
Many Zimbabweans were suspicious of the cause of Friday’s crash, the month after Mugabe and Tsvangirai had formed a unity government that has been mired in disagreements over appointments, economic policy and the detention of activists and supporters of long time opposition leader Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai himself, however, has ruled out foul play in the car crash – putting it down to an accident on one of Zimbabwe’s dangerously potholed roads.
Tsvangirai’s oldest son Edwin thanked Mugabe for his speech.
“I want to thank His Excellency the president for words that changed my understanding of him,” he told the crowd.
Has the picture in Zimbabwe now changed? Will Mugabe and Tsvangirai be able to work together to pull the country out of crisis?