WATCH | Hundreds pay their respects to Morgan Tsvangirai at funeral

19 February 2018 - 14:40 By AFP

Morgan Tsvangirai died in a South African hospital last week at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.

Zimbabweans paid their respects to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai following his death. 

Tsvangirai died on Wednesday, aged 65 at a hospital in South Africa where he had been undergoing treatment for colon cancer, which was diagnosed in 2016.

Hundreds thronged Zimbabwe’s main airport Saturday as his body arrived home for burial.

The body was taken to a military camp where the bodies of national heroes lie in state before burial. Tsvangirai will be buried on Tuesday in his rural home in Buhera, 250 kilometres south of Harare.

Tsvangirai’s death came as tensions over his succession are threatening to tear apart the MDC, which he had led since its formation in 1999. A split in the MDC could hand advantage to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa who took power from Robert Mugabe following a military takeover in November.

Zimbabwe is gearing up for its elections, which are expected before July.

The MDC once posed a formidable challenge to ZANU-PF, even winning the first round of a presidential election in 2008 vote.

Before being forced into a power-sharing deal with ZANU-PF as a prime minister, Tsvangirai was beaten up by police, his rallies were banned and he was charged with treason and jailed.

“When we write the history of this country we cannot leave out the participation and role that the former prime minister played in the effort to entrench democratic values in this country,” Mnangagwa said shortly after offering his condolences to Tsvangirai’s family on Sunday.

Mnangagwa said the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe should be free, fair and credible as a tribute to Tsvangirai.