Tsvangirai had gone to Gweru to console the families of Renson Gasela and Lyson Mlambo who were killed in a car accident last Saturday together with Ntombizodwa Gumbo.
The three and other eight people who were injured in the accident which happened along Gweru-Zvishavane Road, belong to the smaller Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Arthur Mutambara (MDC-M).
Tsvangirai’s speech was punctuated with applause from an appreciative crowd that had gotten wind of his impending visit.
One mourner, shouting in a deep Karanga accent summed up the mood of the crowd as the Prime Minister concluded his delivery,”Save dotihwirai ngoni takarashika kare zviya.”Prime Minister please have mercy on your lost flock.” He was probably referring to the MDC split of 2005.
Addressing mourners at the Mlambo family home, Tsvangirai retraced his friendship with the late Lyson to 1988 when they first met at Midlands Hotel in Gweru at a Trade Union congress. Tsvangirai was representing the Associated Mine Workers Union while Mlambo was a branch leader of the Urban Councils Union then led by former Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Florence Chitauro.
It was at that congress that a 36 year old Morgan Tsvangirai was elected Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions then led by Mr Jerry Mutandare as President.
In his speech which was met with deafening applause, Tsvangirai said,”Political differences notwithstanding, the fact that we are all Zimbabweans is what should bring us together. We differed politically with Lyson in 2005 but that does not change the illustrious role he played in an endeavour to bring about democratic change in Zimbabwe. I am here to say to Lyson you lived a fruitful life and it is time for you to take a well deserved rest. Go well old man.”
Tsvangirai had earlier in a statement released by his party, lamented the poor state of Zimbabwe’s major roads describing them as “rivers of blood and highways of death”.
“Week in week out, month in month out, blood continues to spill on Zimbabwe’s highways of death. Zimbabwe’s roads have become rivers of blood and death cages.”
“Innocent people have perished on our roads and on our railways; far too many to warrant urgent action from the inclusive government. The MDC calls on the inclusive government to take these accidents as wake-up calls to deal decisively with the carnage on our highways which has become a loud indictment on the state of the national road network.”
The party also called for “a special investigation into the toll gate fees that continue to be collected but with no improvement on the state of our roads”.
Gasela was among the MDC’s founding national executive members as the party’s secretary for Lands and Agriculture. Prior to getting into full time politics, he served as a general manager at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
Despite the issues that saw Gasela leaving the party in 2005, the MDC described him as a “a committed and patriotic Zimbabwean who fought for many years to bring real change to the people of this country”.
“He was a democrat, a patriot and a staunch defender of human rights who wanted to see positive change in the country of his birth,” the party said.
“Since 1999, Gasela has always been on the vanguard; responding to the clarion call to save his country from the vagaries of Zanu PF misgovernance and corruption. We cherish his legacy of fighting for a better Zimbabwe.”
Mlambo and Gumbo were expected to be buried on Wednesday while Gasela will be laid to rest at his farm near Gweru on Sunday.