Elizabeth Tsvangirai, widow of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)’s founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, says she suffered a huge breakdown in the days following her husband’s death as she immediately fell out with many members of his immediate family.
Tsvangirai’s widow has, however, now assured Zimbabwe that all was now well among them, resultantly allowing her to perform duties traditionally attributable to her as daughter-in-law, including taking care of her late husband’s surviving mother, Gogo Tsvangirai.
Elizabeth said she greatly missed her late husband Tsvangirai, who at one time became Prime Minister during the Government of National Unity in 2009.
Tsvangirai died at the age of 65 in a South African hospital in 2018 following a long battle against cancer of the colon.
Addressing the media on Sunday, Elizabeth regretted the psychological trauma she went through while her husband was hospitalised in South Africa, including after he died due to the misunderstandings between herself and her husband’s surviving relatives.
Elizabeth cordially retrospected on how her husband’s grieving mother, Gogo Lydia Chibwe, had tried to bar her from attending Tsvangirai’s burial, threatening even to take her own life if Elizabeth dared to.
Elizabeth was, however, quick to say her relationship with the family of the late leader had since been mended.
“Words cannot express the pain and sorrow that I went through, but all is well now with her, others and my soul, because God is good.
“I do not hold any grudges because as a Christian, I am taught to forgive. I have forgiven everyone who attacked me.
“Equally, and in the same vein, I pray that if at all I transgressed against anyone, that they have also forgiven me.
“With regards to my relationship with my husband’s family, people must know that I now relate very well with everyone who is able to accommodate me,” Elizabeth said.
“Semunhu akabva kunevanhu (as someone who grew up in a good family), it’s also my duty to look after Gogo Tsvangirai, and I shall continue to do this to the best of my ability.
“Culturally and spiritually, I am still a daughter-in-law to the Tsvangirai family. While what happened during the time of Morgan’s death is regrettable, it now belongs to the past.
“Of course, I wish people had respected his wishes and allowed him to be with people close to his heart on his death bed and at his farewell,” Elizabeth added.
She also doubted if her late husband would have tolerated her ill-treatment by some of his relatives, also reiterating she had forgiven all.
“I knew my husband very well, and I know for sure that he would not have approved of the treatment that I got during his time of indisposition.
“However, I must emphasise that this is in the past, and such things are common in our culture and among many families.
“In my case, people got to know and to hear about what happened to me – and I’m internally grateful for many people’s support and prayers at the time – because my husband was a public figure,” Elizabeth added.
She added that Tsvangirai – who passed away on Valentine’s Day – left an imprint on her heart, particularly as the couple used to share memorable times on this day.
“It has been tough living without this wonderful person that I had chosen to spend the rest of my life with. He died before we achieved many of our dreams as a couple.
“It is now two years since my husband, best friend, lover and someone that I always looked up to for support and wise counsel left me. I miss Save (Tsvangirai’s totem) terribly,” Elizabeth said while struggling to bottle her emotions.
“Yes, and like many other couples, Morgan and I would celebrate Valentine’s in a special way. He would spoil me with flowers, gifts and good food – including sumptuous lunches, breakfasts and dinners.
“Equally, I would also spoil him with gifts and things I knew he loved in his quiet and unassuming way, like new golf clubs.
“And as this past Valentine’s Day was on a Friday, I would have taken him out of town for a weekend – just for the two of us to have time together, and to allow me to spoil him,” Elizabeth added.
Tsvangirai died just a few months before the 2018 harmonised elections.
Elizabeth said the former trade unionist-turned politician was a caring leader.
“He was a very good person who pushed for a broad-based, water-tight, progressive and modern Constitution for the people of Zimbabwe – a Constitution which resonates with many modern democracies.
“Save (Tsvangirai’s totem) was not just a politician, he was a great and caring leader.
“He did most of his work quietly and with simplicity because he had a great heart and love for the people, and not because he wanted to be seen or to be recognised,” Elizabeth said.